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Week 1 and 2 Readings 2700

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SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Week 1 Readings Chapter 1 Three Types of Crime Explanation 1. External Factors  nature, cosmology, and demonology Nature = the weather Cosmology = the moon, demonology Demonology = deformities (can curse someone) In previous years (thousands of years ago) people believed that some people had control over external forces = made it rain in one area and not the other, eclipse of the moon with the wave of a hand, and children being born with down syndrome 2. Internal Factors  internal causes are things like biological characteristics – genetic make-up of people. Some internal causes also include illness and deficiency. 3. Group Association  is not based off of external forces or internal causes, but the actual social forces = where they grew up (social environment). It looks at the social aspects of a criminal. What their mom and dad were like. Were they abused? Did they take drugs? Etc. Scientific Theories  One of a kind natural explanations  make statements about the relationships between observable phenomena  Some scientific theories make statements about the relationship between the certainty or severity of criminal punishments and the volume of criminal behaviours in society  Because they make statements about the relationships among observable phenomena, a key characteristic of scientific theories is that they can be falsified  if the observations are inconsistency with the assertions of the theory, then the theory is falsified Causation in Scientific Theories  Causation in scientific theories means 4 things 1. Correlation 2. Theoretical rationale 3. Time sequence 4. Absence of spuriousness (inaccuracy)  Correlation = things tend to vary systematically in relation to each other. A negative correlation is when more of one thing tends to be associated with less of the other.  Correlation, whether positive or negative, is necessary for causation, but correlation alone is not sufficient for causation  Theoretical Rationale = correlation and theoretical rationale are also not enough to infer causation.  Time Sequence = if the discipline comes first and the delinquency comes later, then we would conclude that the discipline causes the delinquency. But if the delinquency comes first and the discipline comes later, we would conclude that the delinquency causes the discipline  Absence of Spuriousness = the relationship between delinquent behavior and parental disciplinary techniques would be spurious. Examples of Things Previously Seen as Deviant but NOT Anymore  Practicing homosexuality  Adultery  Abortion  Divorce  Birth control Three Frames of Reference 1. The view that intelligence and rationality are fundamental human characteristics and are the basis for explaining human behaviour. Humans are said to be capable of understanding themselves and of acting to promote their own best interests. They key to progress is said to be intelligent behaviour that is brought about by careful training and education. (this is the frame of reference of classical criminology  criminologists attempt to design and test a system of punishment that will result in a minimal occurrence of crime. 2. The view that behavior is determined by factors beyond the individual’s control. This view implies that humans are not self-determining agents who are free to do as they wish and as their intelligence directs. Criminologists attempt to identify the causes of criminal behavior, and today most criminologists take a multiple-factor approach (there are many factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of a person engaging in criminal behavior). 3. The view that the causes of criminal behaviour are essentially similar to the causes of legal behaviors, so that the search for the causes of crime is ultimately futile. Criminologists who take this view attempt to explain why some behaviours are legally defined as criminal while other similar behaviors are not. Theories of the behavior of criminal law suggest that the volume of crime and the characteristics of criminals are determined primarily by the enactment and enforcement of laws. Relationship Among the Three Frames of Reference  there is no contradiction between a spiritual approach and the various natural approaches described earlier  classical criminologists hold the view that crime can be judged in terms of deliberateness, intent and understanding of right and wrong  positivist criminologists reject the free will of classical criminologists, but within this frame of reference, some criminologists focus on social factors and largely ignore biological and psychological factors  neither the classical nor the positivist frames of reference accurately represent crime as a social phenomnenon The Classical School of Criminology (1680-1800)  Tied to the enlightenment period  Importance of free will  Role of hedonism (self-interest)  Social contract  Role of punishment  Utilitarianism (greatest good, for the greatest amount of people) The enlightenment period was how we think things  punishment, laws, etc. Hedonistic people are motivated in 2 ways = they seek out pleasure, but avoid the pain and consequences. This means that hedonists are self-interested; they only look out for themselves. Free will is a very important aspect as to why people commit crimes. The basis of social contract is that people have to give certain things up to be part of it (example: you can’t run into a room and yell “fire” = some people may feel unsafe, etc.). Social contract is a form of relationship (it is a give and take relationship). Something is given up in return for something else. Social contract is important when we look at the classical school of criminology. The role of punishment is what punishment would be most effective. Utilitarianism argues that the greatest good for the greatest amount of people is important because the laws, and authority figures, need this view. When they have this view there becomes a balance in society. Week Two Readings Chapter Two – Classical Criminology Today classicism includes 3 different but related strands of theory and research, all of which are related to practical policy recommendations to reduce crime. The Social and Intellectual Background of Classical Criminology  Classical criminology was a protest against the spiritual explanations of crime in which the criminal justice policies were then based upon  One of the first “social contract” thinkers, Thomas Hobbes, substituted naturalistic arguments for the spiritualistic arguments. o He argued that people naturally pursue their own interests without caring about whether they hurt anyone else. (“war of each against all”; people only look out for themselves). o He then argued that people are rational enough to know this method is good for no one, so people agree to give up own selfish behaviour as long as everyone else does, he called this the “social contract”. o Social contract needs an enforcement mechanism (the state) in case some people cheat, therefore everyone who agrees to the contract also agrees to let the state use force to maintain the contract.  Other social contract philosophers, such as Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau followed Hobbes in constructing philosophies that included a natural and rational basis for explaining crime. Beccaria and the Classical School Classical criminology most often associated with Beccaria.  His work was based on a free-will rationalistic hedonism  Proposed a model of human choice that was based on the rational calculation of costs and benefits (punishments should be proportionate to the seriousness of offenses so that the cost of crime always exceeds its reward, therefore deters people from committing crime).  This model became the basis for all modern criminal justice systems.  He proposed reforms to make criminal justice practice more logical and rational.  His ideas to make the criminal justice system both just and effective include: 1. The role of the legislatures should be to define crimes and to define specific punishments for
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