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SOC 2700 Chapter Summaries.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Chapter 1 Theory and CrimeDiscuss the extent and distribution of criminal behaviours in society the characteristics of criminal law and procedure the characteristics of criminals and the history structure and functioning of the criminal justice systemTheory Sensible way of understanding something of relating it to the whole world of information beliefs and attitude that make up the intellectual atmosphere of people at a particular time or place Spiritual ExplanationsView of life in which many criminal events are the result of otherworldly powersPrimitive people regarded natural disasters like hurricanes or floods as punishments for wrongs they had doneIn history methods such as trial by ordeal were used to determine guiltthey would put people through difficult and painful tests and if innocent God would protect them and leave them unharmed The Pope banished trial by ordeal in 1215it was replaced by compurgation where the accused would gather a group of 12 reputable people who would swear that he or she was innocentthey would not lie or they would face the wrath of Godthis ultimately evolved into testimony under oath and trial by jury Natural ExplanationsObjects and events in the material world as an explanation for crimeEarly ideas were things like the braing is the organ of the mindHippocrates and the idea of the indestructible matter the atomEarly Roman law combined spiritual and natural explanations to come up with a natural basis for penalties and rightslooked at the nature of things for its principle justification Scientific TheoriesMake statements about relationships between observable phenomenafor example the relationship of certainty and severity of punishmentthe volume of criminal behaviours in a societyKey characteristic about scientific theories is that they can be falsified since they are observablefalsified through thorough research o If the observations are consistent with the theory than the theory is more credible if not they are falsified Causation in Scientific TheoriesCausation in scitheories means 4 things o Correlationthings vary systematically in relation to each other o Theoretical rationalegood reason to believe the that a causal relation existso Time sequenceDetermine the direction of causationex does the discipline cause the deviance or the deviance cause the discipline o The absence of spuriousnessThe factors that are being studied are the only possible factors acting on the people in the studyThe final statement that a causal relationship exists is a statement of probability not certainty Three frames of reference 1 Criminal behaviour as freely chosenIntelligence and rationality are fundamental human characteristics and are the basis for explaining human behaviourEach person is the master of their own fateThis is classical criminology 2 Caused by forces beyond control of the individualHumans are not selfdetermining agents who are free to do as they wishThis is positivist criminology 3 Crime as a function of the way law is written and enforcedMeans the search for crime is ultimately futileAttempt to explain why some behaviours are legally defined as criminal and some similar behaviours are notTheories and behaviour of criminal law Relationships among the three frames of referenceThe points of view seem different from one another however they are not contradictoryno contradiction between spiritualthe various natural approachesChapter 2 Classical CriminologyMost commonly associated with BeccariaBased of the rational calculation of benefits and its costOn that basis punishments should be proportional to the crime so the cost of the benefit outweighs the award BackgroundClassical crim went against the commonly held spiritual explanations of crimeAquinas explained that there was a natural law peoples tendency to do good rather than evilCrime was also a sin therefore punishable by torturesBeginning with Hobbes social contract thinkers began to substitute the prior beliefsAquinas though people naturally do good rather than evil while Hobbes believed people only took selfinterest into account and did not care about harming othersHobbes argues that people realized that this wont work so everyone agrees to stop this hedonism as long as everyone else doessocial contractState enforces this contractby agreeing to the contract you transfer power to the stateBeccarias book resulted in many countries designing their criminal justice system after his beliefs Beccariathe Classical School With no experience in the field Beccaria was supposed to write an essay on penology it was titled On Crimes and PunishmentsHe objected to the barbaric methods of punishment during his time and came up with ideas to make a justice system effective and just 1 The role of legislatures should be to define crimes and specific punishments for those crimes 2 The role of judges should be to determine whether one is guilty of a crimeonce it is determined the judge should follow the laws to determine punishment 3 The seriousness of a crime should be determined by the extend of harm it inflicts on societyother factors like intent were irrelevant4 Purpose of punishment is to deter crimepunishments should be proportionate to the crime 5 Punishments are unjust when their severity exceeds what is necessary to deter the crime 6 Excessive severity not only fails to deter crime but actually increases itthey are driven to commit several crimes to avoid punishments for a single one 7 The more prompt a punishment is awarded the more just and useful it will be 8 Punishments should be certainthe certainty will make a stronger impression than the possibility of another Beccaria also believed that laws should be published torture and secret accusations should be abolished capital punishment be replaced by imprisonment that jail be more humane and law not differ between the rich and poorChurch was against Beccarias ideas throughout Types of Deterrent research 1 Looks at the effects of policies that target specific crimes in specific places such as police crackdowns on drug marketsStudies show that these achieve and initial deterrent but tends to deteriorate rather quicklyInitial deterrence decayoffenders learn through trial and error that they may have overestimated the crackdownResidual deterrencetakes time for offenders to realize that it is safe to offend again 2 Looks at the distinction of the objective risks and the perception of these risks by potential offendersMost studies involved survey research asking participants about their perceptions of the risk of being punished for specific offenseswhether they committed or intend to commit those crimesResearch found associations between offending and the perceptions of certainty of punishment but less between offending and severity 3 Looks at Criminal Justice policies in different jurisdictions and at the crime rates associated with these policiesThis suggests that areas with more police officers imprison more people and the death penalty in place should have less crime results have been unsatisfying
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