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Lecture 2

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University of Guelph
Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2120

SOC Week 2- Lecture 3 Classical/Rational Choice Perspectives and Deterrence January 15, 2013 THE RISE OF CLASSICAL THEORY Cesar Beccaria & Jeremy Bentham (18 century) Cesar Beccaria – Utilitarianism  4 key principles between law and society 1 equality: the idea that everyone should be treated equally under the law. 2 principle: liberty, people had right to protection of abuses of power from the state. 3 principle: th humanitarianism: punishment should be fair and humane. 4 : utilitarianism: radical, goal for society was to produce greatest happiness for greatest number of people, punishment should be useful, rather than retaliation. Should serve as a deterrent.  All behavior is chosen  Choices are controlled by threat of punishment -Criminal justice system, must coincide with the cost/benefit calculation of potential offenders  For punishment to deter, it must be certain (predictable) -Criminal justice system should work to eliminate discretion and arbitrariness  For punishment to deter, it must be fair (proportional)  Not to avenge crime, just to make most number of people happy WHAT IS A PROPORTIONAL PUNISHMENT Crime A: convenience store robbery; max life in prison Crime B: trafficking cocaine; max life in prison Crime C: theft under 5000; 6 months prison & 2000 fine to max 2 years in prison Crime D: impaired driving causing death; max life in prison JEREMY BENTHAM  Maximize happiness, minimize pain  Principle of utility (greatest happiness of all)/”Greatest happiness principle”(should only be punishing things that overall hurt society)  Criminal behavior is influenced by the same mechanisms as other behavior (we don’t need special theories to explain crime, we are all free to choose crime as one of many behaviors we can engage in during the day, engage depending costs and rewards of crime) Cost benefit analysis  People are going to pursue happiness while doing so weighing the costs of that pursuit  Set society and laws up so in people’s interests to not commit crime = punishments based on deterrence CLASSICAL THEORIES: ASSUMPTIONS  People are rational, self-interested actors (hedonistic)  People have free will; ultimately we are going to pursue the most pleasure with the least pain/cost  Society is based on a social contract (we agree on a set of rules because we recognize those rules benefit us, even if they restrict our freedom to some degree) e.g. cant assault someone giving up that freedom but in return they can’t do it to you either  Nature of crime: -Acts that are harmful; acts that violate the social contract (should only be rated on their harmfulness) there is a general consensus in society about what is harmful (legally)  Nature of offenders: -Offenders are rational decision-makers -Punishment transforms behavior – increases costs *Criminals commit crimes because
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