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CRIM 300W (51)
Jay H (14)
Lecture 3

Week 3 Textbook - Pre-Classical and Classical School

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Jay H

WEEK 3: PRE-CLASSICAL AND CLASSICAL THEORIES OF CRIME Introduction  Emphasis on free will and ability of individuals to make rational decisions  Strong religious or supernatural causes of crime before the Age of Enlightenment  Ability of human beings to choose their own behavior and destiny  Analysis of what’s going on in someone’s head before they commit a crime  Potential offender weights out the possible costs and pleasure of committing  Individuals make decisions regardless of extraneous influences  Classical School theories are used as the basis for the US policies on punishment and criminal activity Pre-Classical Perspectives of Crime and Punishment  Historically, criminal activity was thought to be caused by supernatural causes or religious factors  Primitive cultures - devil or evils spirits, perform exorcisms, surgeries, full moon = criminal activity  Full moon belief is fake, Classical school equivalent = simply more opportunities to commit crime when the moon is full because there is more light at night  Historically, no understanding why individuals violate laws of society  Harsh punishments by modern standards o Ex. beheading, torture, burned alive, drowned, stoned Age of Enlightenment  Thomas Hobbs o Proposed theory of why people are motivated to form governments o People are rational o Importance of fear  Motivation to enter into contracts  Make citizens conform to rules or laws in society o Citizens entitled to certain degree of respect from government o Individuals create rules of conduct that all members of that society must follow = laws o Government has the authority and the duty to punish violators o SOCIAL CONTRACT – citizens promising to abide by the laws or rules set forth by a given society in return for protection  Enlightenment theorists: Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu 1  Emphasized fairness in determine who was guilty and appropriate punishments  Social contract breakdown – government fails to punish members of the community who violate the rules, especially those with authority/power  DEMOCRACY – every person in society should have a say in the government  Individual’s right to pursuit of life, liberty and happiness  human beings are rational, people freely choose their behaviour The Classical School of Criminology  Cesare Beccaria – Father of classical school of criminology, father of deterrence theory Influences of Beccaria and His Writing  Influenced by the Enlightenment philosophers  Emphasis on social contract  UTILITARIANISM – greatest happiness shared by the greatest number Beccaria’s Proposed Reforms and Ideas of Justice  Authoritarian governments ruled at that time  Different punishments for different people depending on their social class 1. Only laws can decree punishments for crimes, judges in criminal cases cannot have the authority to interpret laws o Prevent a single person from assignment an overly harsh sentence on a defendant and allowing another defendant in a similar case to walk free for the same criminal act o Require set punishments for a given offense, presiding judge’s personal attitudes or defendant’s background does not matter 2. Believed “true measure of crimes is namely the harm done to society” o Laws impose specific punishment regardless of contextual circumstances o Ignored offender’s intent in committing crime  Intent very important in modern justice systems  Mens rea – guilty mind  Actus reus – guilty act o Claimed act against society was just as harmful regardless of the intent 3. Secret accusations should not be permitted o Defendants should be able to confront and cross-examine witness 4. Torture should not be used against defendants o Information/oaths obtained under torture are worthless 5. Defendants should be tried by fellow citizens or peers o Responsibility of determine facts should be placed on more than one person 2 o Promotes fairness and democratic process o Trial by judge = guilty, but a lot are wrongly accused, unjustly sentenced 6. Emphasis on make the justice system more public and better understood o If people know the consequences of their actions, they will act accordingly 7. Decision making processes of justice system should be public knowledge o Citizens are entitled to know what decision their government officials are making o Ensures a form of checks and balances on what is happening o Produces a form of deterrence for tempted individuals 8. The surest but most difficult way to prevent crime is by perfecting education Beccaria’s Ideas of Death Penalty  Was against the use of capital punishment, but not against corporal punishment  Reasons against: o Violated the social contract o Death penalty is a negative example to the rest of society  BRUTALIZATION EFFECT – increase of homicides after executions o Ineffective deterrent  Not the intensity of punishment but the duration that has greatest effect Beccaria’s Concept of Deterrence and the Three Key Elements of Punishment  Known as the father of deterrence theory  Prior to his work, common wisdom on the issue of human destiny was that it was chosen by the gods  Historically, society believed that people were born good or bad, Beccaria defied this belief  3 characteristics of punishment which make a difference in whether the individual decides to commit a criminal act 1. Swiftness – swiftness of punishment  The more promptly and closely punishment follows after crime, the more just and useful it’ll be  Have to catch them in the act or soon after or punishment does not matter because the offender does not know why he/she is being punished  Offender must know, one as the cause and the other as the necessary inevitable effect  The most neglected characteristics 2. Certainty – certainty of punishment  Most important 3  Perceived certainty of risk of punishment was the most important aspect of deterrence 3. Severity – severity of punishment  Effective punishment – possible penalty must outweigh potential benefits of given crime  Punishments should equal or outweigh any benefits of crime to deter individuals from engaging in such acts  However punishments that largely exceed the reasonable punishment for a given crime is inhumane and may lead to further criminality Beccaria’s Conceptualization of Specific and General Deterrence  Distinguished by intended target of punishment  Punishment – to prevent the criminal from inflicting new injuries on its citizens and to deter others from similar acts  SPECIFIC DETERRENCE – deterrence that focuses on the defendant alone  GENENRAL DETERRENCE – punishments that focus primarily on other potential criminals and not on the actual criminal o Scaring others into not committing such criminal acts  Punishments such a public sign-wearing, newspaper ads, billboards may encourage individuals into doing what the public expects them to do o Authorities hope these signs will frighten other from engaging in similar activities  Numerous diversion programs which seek to punish offenders without engaging them in public hearings or trials o Hold individuals accountable and fulfill certain obligations without having them dragged though the system o Instill public deterrence but neglects general deterrence  Beccaria – better to prevent crimes than to punish them o Better to deter potential offenders before they offend o Education is likely the best way to reduce crime Summary of Beccaria’s Ideas and His Influence on Policy  “In order for punishment not to be, in every instance, an act of violence of one or of many against a private citizen, it must be essentially public, prompt, necessary, the least possible in the given circumstances, proportionate to the crimes, dictated by the laws o Processing and punishment must be known to the public o Punishment must be appropriately, swift, certain and appropriately severe o Need for equal punishment for a given criminal act 4  Beccaria excommunicated from Roman Catholic Church, book was on list of
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