1. Recap: Beccaria’s legacy
Contemporary deterrence theory
Contemporary rational choice theory (people are rational actors and they think
crime pays. Useful explanation for explaining instrumental crime, but not
Routine activities theory (examine the structure of criminal opportunity)
Crime prevention: reduce attractiveness of criminal opportunity
Increase effort needed to commit crime
Decrease reward for committing crime
Increase risk of formal sanctions or punishment
Increase risk of informal sanctions (people care more when their
significant others are angry over their behaviour, than about the reactions
of the cjs)
*Video on routine activities theory has a deterrent effect because he says “you don’t
have to confess we will come looking for you”
Re-evaluating Lombroso (father of criminology)
New English translation of Criminal Man—dismissal of Lombroso’s work by many
criminologists. Racist and sexist assumptions that are no longer in favour of our
Renewed criminological interest in the stuff that animated Lombroso’s research
Brain abnormalities in skulls—related to brain deficiencies and
Life course persistent offenders— criminality can be classified; there are
different criminal types (the born criminal is a forerunner for theories like
life course offenders—disproportionate offenders that cannot be deterred
by punishment) Psychopaths as well.
Evolutionary psychology— atavism can be seen as foreshadowing the
same concerns held by contemporary evolutionary psychologists. They
are interested in how our social behaviours like aggression are by-
products of adaptation and natural selection. Data chart by Rushton: 3 biological species: blacks, whites, and Orientals.
Brain size as a proxy for intelligence. Smaller brain size: deficient mental
capacity. Majority of criminals are less intelligent than the average person.
Europeans fall in the middle, and orientals fall on only 1 good side. The
problem with this is that it only looks at biological factors, and it reduces
race to a biological concept, and it is an argument of biological
determinism, and it is not supported by empirical evidence.
2. Lombroso and positivist criminology
Positivist (modern) criminology has 2 elements:
1. Belief that human behaviour is a function of external and internal forces beyond
individual control (how were you brought up by your parents, and what is your
biological make up)
Vs. free will (classical criminology) –we can choose to commit crime
Positivists would disagree with classical criminology because we cannot
choose to do anything.
Deterministic theories—all behaviour is determined by internal and
external factors. People are predisposed to committing crime in the first
Lombroso is a biological deterministic theorist
Impact on criminal responsibility—it made jurists rethink the amount
of criminal responsibility that’s necessary in order to justify
Under classical criminology: we can punish you because you
CHOSE to commit crime. But under positivistic, it is hard to punish.
Therefore, we do not deter all offenders under the same
Deterministic theory and criminal responsibility
Mentally disordered offender
Section 16 of the Criminal Code: Section 16(2): Everyone is presumed to not suffer from a mental disorder
(we assume that your are rational and chose to commit crime and that is
why we punish you, unless you can prove that you are not a rational actor,
and you need to be considered a mentally ill offender)
Section 16(1): No person is criminally responsible for an act committed or
an omission made while a) suffering from a mental disorder that rendered
the person b) incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or
omission, or of c) knowing that it was wrong
Lombroso and positivist criminology
2. Use of scientific method to solve problems and the use of empirical methods to
3. Both classical and positivists are rationalists however they use it differently.
Positivist moves from normative to scientific theory. He finds dead prisoners to
measure their skulls and various characteristics. He starts a new type of science
called criminal anthropology.
Criminal anthropology—combined study of human race and criminality. He
would count and classifphysical abnormalities.
Establishes criminologist as expert on criminality— the skulls have
no meaning for themselves, so what he did was he made the
criminologist an interpreter for the skulls for meaningful signs of
Phrenology—scientific practice and assumes that the various
bumps on a person’s head and skull were related to that persons
intellectual and personality traits. Concluded that criminals have
more cranial abnormalities.
Physiognomy—assumes that an individual’s external corporal
features such as their body type of facial characteristics mirror the
person’s internal moral stakes. Unattractive people are more likely
to criminal. For example, in animated films, the princess is
attractive and the villains are not.
Inductive reasoning—the bedrock of science. When you draw
general rules from the observation of numerous individual cases.
He looks at 66 individual skulls as different cases and from the skulls he makes a general conclusion that on average, they have
an indentation on the base of the skulls.
Social contract (Beccaria) vs. evolutionary theory (Lombroso)
• Free will determinism
• Similarity difference
• Universal specific (differences between groups)
• Criminal Inclination criminality as abnormal, but normal (because it exists in the
world of nature)
Darwin would say that within each species, there are variations between people and
those variations are important because they give those people an important advantage
for reproduction. Therefore evolutionary theory assumes individual
difference/abnormality. However, social contract does not look at these differences; it
assumes we all have similarities. Not all groups are at the same stage of evolution, so
they shouldn’t be treated in the same way. Becarria ignored sex, age and other factors.
But Lombroso would say you need to consider age and sex because they play an
important role in why people commit crime, and it should be taken into consideration in
how each individual should be punished.
Criminality is natural
Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson: Demonic males: Apes and the origins of
human violence (1997) criminality may be natural, but it is not socially acceptable
Lombroso and social defence
“I do not agree with those famous jurists [e.g. Beccaria] who argue that all
offenders should go to prison because they freely choose to break the law.