SOC 2760 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Cesare Beccaria, Cesare Lombroso, Social Disorganization Theory

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Criminology
SOC*2700*
Lecture 2
Biological & Psychological Theories of
Crime
Different Types of Theories
Macrotheory / Bridging (Mesotheory) / Microtheory
Macro- broad explanations of social structure w emphasis on rates of crime
(epidemiology)…related to courts ex looking at how court systems differ bw
countries
Bridging/eeso- looks at both how social structure operates and how individuals
become criminal
Micro- etiological explanations for individual and small groups’ criminal
behaviour
Metatheory- less testable theories about theory itself, a thing about a thing
about a thing
Classical Theories / Positivist Theories
Classical theory- focus on legal statues, gov structures and the rights of humans
Positivist theories- focus on pathology using scientific methods to treat and
prevent crime
Conflict Theories / Consensus Theories
Conflict- based on the assumption that disagreement is common and that ppl in
society hold conflicting values…some ppl feel like they need more money for
certain jobs whereas others see it as too much money
Consensus- based on the assumption that there is agreement in society
Structural Theories / Process Theories
Structural: focus on societys organization and effects on behaviour
Usually don’t focus on individuals
Process: steps ppl engage in to become criminal explain how ppl become
criminal
Don’t focus on social structure
The Classical School - Main Principles
1) Criminal behaviours is rational and most ppl have the potential to engage in
such behaviours
2) People may choose to commit a crime after weighing the costs and benefits
of their actions (free will)
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3) Fear of punishment is what keeps people law abiding; severity and certainty
and speed of punishment affect the crime rate
4) Punishment should fit crime rather than offender, all criminals should receive
equal punishment regardless of background (wealth of offender)
5) The CJS must be predictable, with laws and punishments known to the
public
Basic Concepts
Humans are voluntaristic & self-interested
Free will/ individual choice
Role of state is critical
Contract
Regulate human interaction
We give up freedom for state (police)
“Rule of law” - everyone treated equally, without fear or favour, in the eyes of
the law
about action not person
reasons for committing the crime shouldn’t matter it should be a equal
punishment
Cesare Beccaria
Idea of social contract: “laws are the conditions under which independent and
isolated men united to form a society” (Beccaria, “Essay on Crimes and
Punishments,” 1764).
Punishment should be deterrence rather than retribution; crime prevention >
revenge
It should be about deterrence (keeping others from committing the same
crime) its more important than revenge
Cesare Beccaria
Identified three types of crimes:
1) threatened security of state
crimes against gov/police that put more of us in danger (fines ex. Not
paying taxes)
2) injured citizens or property
severe punishment (corporal punishment)
we have individuals that commit murder but we shouldn’t get revenge on
them
3) run contrary to social order
things that are really bad should have a huge punishment
Deterrence
Two forms:
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General: consequence directed at individual but designed to dissuade society
Specific: designed to prevent individual from reoffending
Three components:
Celerity: speed (closer to act, better the result) …murder trails take a long time
so celerity isn’t present …ppl talk about when someone is convicted but the
trail takes a while to go thru so ppl forget about the case
Certainty: always will happen when act committed …we speed bc there is no
certainty that we will be caught
Severity: amount of pain inflicted (should be proportionate to crime) …if u steal
bread you shouldn’t face the death penalty
Maximize Celerity and Certainty = deterrence most likely
Severity risky: may make gov look too powerful like having the death penalty
for every crime, it would lead to distrust
Jeremy Bentham & Panopticon
Influential in prison architecture, theory and management
Jailor / Guard can see inmates without being seen
Omnipresence through architecture
Internalize being “watched" and adjust behaviours
Just desserts
Offender “gets what s/he deserves”
Focus on offence, not offender
Deter offender through pleasure-pain principle
Ensure justice served by equal punishment for same crime
Much of Canadian reform under conservative gov focused on this model
Types of Theories
“Kind of person” explanation
Biological Theories- genes, psychical makeup
Psychological Theories- inside, psychology
Social Theories - not individual; societal influence is focus
The Positive School - Main Principles
1) Human behaviour controlled by physical, mental, and social factors
behave is determined- factors outside of individuals immediate control
shape their beh
2) Criminals are different from non-criminals
assumes diff b/w normal and deviant person
3) Science can be used to discover the true causes of crime and to treat
offenders
focus is on nature of offender rather than criminal act
values treatment over punishment
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