Focuses on why people commit crimes
Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857)
- Three stages of evolution
What is Positive Criminology?
- A Method
o Cause and effect
o Framework that shares set of assumptions
o Within a paradigm have different theories
o 3 strains
What are the basic characteristics of Positivism?
o Hard: they believe that people have no free will
o Soft: they believe in conditional free will. They have a constrained free will
- Differentiation: the idea that there is something different with people who commit crimes
- Focus on actors: very concerned with the actors. Want to know why the crime happened.
- Punishment should fit the individual: every person is unique
- Offenders can be cured: they can be treated and potentially rehabilitated
- Reliance on experts
Why did positivism come to dominate?
- Classical school did not locate the causes of crime
- Crime was increasing
- Promise of a solution
- No limits on treatment - Could utilize existing institutions
- Did not challenge the status quo – does not question power
General Problems with Positivist Theories
- Over prediction of crime
- What about expectations?
- Assumption of difference
- Are criminal and non-criminals really that different?
- Belief in determinism
- What about free will?
- Ignores criminalization process
- Why are certain behaviours illegal and not others?
- Belief in a normative consensus
- They believe that criminals are physiologically different and that’s why they commit
Phrenology: the belief that our brain is split up into different areas that represent traits. It was
believed that a professional could feel bumps in the head and determine that that area is used
Cesare Lombroso (1835 – 1909)
- Provided medical services in army and prison
- Compared physical characteristics of individuals
- Influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution
o Social Darwinism
Atavists – The Born Criminal
- Share characteristics with prehistoric man
- Defective genes – inferior
- Live by their indicts
- Insensitivity to pain
- Closer to a primate
- Tends to live by