Classical Criminology : Theory, Deterrence, And Proportional Punishment

1268 Words Sep 7th, 2014 6 Pages
This essay will discuss classical criminology, commonly referred to as classicism. The first part of this essay will clarify the main features and concepts of classicism, including rational choice theory, free will, social contract theory, deterrence, and proportional punishment. This essay will then further analyse these theories and identify any limitations and problems associated with them. This will give a better understanding towards the concepts that surround criminology.

Classicism emerged and developed in Europe in the late eighteenth century (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2002). Classical scholars were interested in finding ways to control and direct criminal behaviour rather than figuring out the causes – social conditions of crime were deemed unimportant (Hale, Hayward, Wahidin, & Wincup, 2013). They also focused on individual rights and the individual being held responsible for the consequences of their actions (White, Haines, & Asquith, 2012). In order to successfully hold the individual responsible, classical theory emphasized clarity in sentencing to ensure the sentence received would inflict pain and outweigh the gain (Lilly et al., 2002). In classicism, the focus shifted to the individual.

Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham were important figures in the development of classicism; they characterized criminals as rational and free-willed individuals (Hagan, 2008). Rational choice theory is where people are able to calculate and make judgements in to accurately…

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