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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

Soc 2700 Chapter Notes For Final Chapter 1 09042013 90300 AM Chapter 1 Theory and Crime Two type basic types of theories on crime Spiritual and Natural Spiritual ExplanationsSpiritual explanations of crime are part of a general view of life in which many events are believed to result from the influence of otherworldly powersMiddle Ages Crime was a private affair The various methods of determining who was innocentguilty are in historical order o Trial by Battle both parties would fight whoever won was innocent decided by God o Trial by Ordeal accused is subjected to painful tests from which an innocent person would be unharmed protected by God o Compurgation 1215 accused gathers 12 reputable people to vow their innocence o Testimony under oath and trial by juryThe modern prison system originated from spiritual explanations of crime in which criminals were isolated given only bibles and expected to repent o Penitentiary used to describe the place where criminals become penitents Natural ExplanationsMake use of objects and events in the material world to explain crime thth 1617 century philosophers such as Hobbes Spinoza Descartes Leibniz studied human affairs impersonally and quantitativelyScientific TheoriesMake statements about the relationships between observable phenomenaKey characteristic of scientific theories is that they can be falsified by systematically observing the relationship described in the theory and then comparing the observation to the arguments research Causation in Scientific TheoriesCausation is one type of relationship among observable variables requires 4 criteria o Correlation means that things tend to vary systematically in relation to each otherPositive correlationNegative correlation o Necessary for causation although not sufficient for causationo Theoretical Rationale A coherent reason is required to believe that a causal relation exists o Time Sequence by determining time sequence we can determine what part of the correlation is the cause and outcome which aids the theoretical rationaleo Absence of Spuriousness Sometimes it can look as though there is causation between two variables when it fact they are both caused by a third variable This is called a spurious relationship The absence of a spurious relationship is necessary to prove causationResearchers use control variables to prove the absence of spuriousnessThe conclusion that a causal relationship exists is always a statement of probability never an assertion of certainty Three Frames of Reference in CriminologyClassical Criminology Free will o Humans are said to be capable of understanding themselves and acting to promote their best interests o Each person is master of their own fate possessed of free will o Crime is seen as a product of the free choice of individuals who assess the potential benefits of crime against the costs of punishment o This frame of reference is concerned with theory and research on the question of deterrencePositivist Criminology Behaviour determined by outside factors o Humans are not selfdetermining agents o This frame of reference is concerned with identifying the causes of criminal behaviouro Uses a Multiple factor approach biological psychological and sociologicalTheories of the Behaviour of Criminal Law crime is a function of the criminal justice system o Causes of criminal behaviour are similar to the causes of legal behaviour o Search for the cause of crime is futile o Concerned with explaining why some behaviourspeople are legallyofficially defined as criminal and others are not o Suggest that the volume of crime and the characteristics of criminals are determined primarily by the enforcement of laws Relationship Among the Three Fames of ReferenceThere is no contradiction between a spiritual approach and various natural approachesWithin naturalist approach many differences appear to be contradictory although they can do more than disagree with each other They can systematically observe the world to see if the asserted relationship actually exists this is the Scientific Process Chapter 2 09042013 90300 AM Chapter 2 Classical CriminologyClassical criminology is often associated with Cesare BeccariaHe argued that punishments should be proportional to the seriousness of offences so that the cost of crime always exceeds the rewardsThis approach became the basis for all modern criminal justice systemsToday classicism includes 3 strands of theory and research o First focuses on theory and research about the deterrent effect of criminal justice policies o Second argues that rationally calculating potential offenders respond to opportunities to commit crimes and that these opportunities are systematically related to the routine activities by which people live their livesFocus is on limiting criminal opportunities o Third is Rational choice approach developed a more complex view of how offenders in particular situations calculate their costs and benefitsFocus is on changing situations to influence calculations The Social and Intellectual Background of Classical CriminologyClassical criminology was a protest against spiritualistic criminal justice policies and explanations of crimeHobbes Social Contract argues people are naturally selfish rational enough to realize this and agree to a social contract in which the state is granted to right to use force to maintain peaceOther Philosophers of the time Locke Montesquieu Voltaire and Rousseau constructed ideas on social contracts Beccaria and the Classical SchoolBeccaria proposed various reforms to make criminal justice practice more logical and rational o The role of legislature should be to define crimes and to define specific punishments for each crime o The role of judges should be to determine guilt use precedence to determine punishment o The seriousness of a crime is determined by the extent of harm that it inflicts on society o The purpose of punishment is to deter crime therefore punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the crime o Punishments are unjust when their severity exceeds what is necessary to achieve deterrence o Excessive severity not only fails to deter crime but actually increases it o Punishment must be prompt o Punishment must be certain He also proposedLaw should be publishedTorture and secret accusations should be abolishedCapital punishment should be replaced with imprisonmentJail should be more humaneThe law should not distinguish between the rich and the poorFrom Classical TheoryDeterrence Research
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