Pros And Cons Of Classical Criminology

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Criminology in its Classical sense was construed in a time of deep division and social unrest within Europe. The monarchies had been both corrupt and incompetent causing the masses, whom had been subjected to centuries of brutal authoritarianism, to rise up in revolution. Ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity gained popularity, prompting the complete overhaul of the legal system based on the concepts of Jeremy Bentham (Burns & Hart eds. 1996) and Cesare Beccaria (Thomas ed. 2009). Together they established the principles that would encapsulate Classical Criminology and shape the criminal system as it is known today. In this climate, the concept of a ‘social contract’ was surmised by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Gourevitch ed. 1997) in which individuals …show more content…
Secondly, that adherence to the law is a choice decided by the calculation of potential risk and reward derived from the action. Essentially one takes criminal actions to ‘maximise payoff and minimise costs’ (Akers 1990, pp. 653). Thirdly, individuals will always behave in a manner that is in their self-interest despite the adverse effects it may have on others. Finally, that the main aim of punishment is to deter rather than to avenge the criminal act of the individuals. This is because a legal system, in order to prevent crime, must apply penalties that are deemed fair and equal in order to offset the potential gain that may be derived from criminal activity (Akers 1999, pp.15-20), linking back to the idea of the ‘social contract’. These conventions define the basis of the theory of Classical Criminology. To provide a context for this criminological theory, street crimes refer to crimes that take occurs in a public space that includes both crimes against the person and crimes against property. Violent crimes can be seen as a subset of street crimes in which the offender threatens or applies force against their …show more content…
As an example, a situation provided by Braithwaite (1989) will be used to examine the effectiveness of Classical Criminology. Jimmy and Johnny have the opportunity to steal a car however Johnny refrains from doing the crime due to both a fear of punishment and guilt. Jimmy on the other hand weighs the potential risk and reward and makes a rational decision to steal the car. Similarly, an individual may sell drugs on the street for the profit derived from the illicit trafficking despite the heavy penalties that are associated with being caught. What Classical Criminology expresses here firstly is that individuals in these examples make a rational and deliberate choice of their own volition to commit the crime. Furthermore despite the presence of punishment if they get caught, they have judged the possibility or the strength of both the harms and benefits of their actions and decided to follow through with the criminal act. These individuals are behaving in such a way that they profit through material gain from their indiscretion, progressing their own self-interest. In these ways, Classical Criminology is able to explain the processes by which street crime occurs by exhibiting the hedonistic tendencies individuals incorporate into their actions. However these principles may not be as useful in the interpretation of violent crime,

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