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Chapter 8

SOCI-225 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Deterrence Theory, Cesare Lombroso, Victimology

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History and Major Principles of Early Theories
We have come a long way in our understanding of crime, criminals, victimology, rehabilitation,
and reintegration
-Early theories of crime were based on superstition, which often led to unethical and immoral
treatment of offenders. Today, all people, offenders and non-offenders alike, have certain rights.
-Given these two positions, one could argue that we have come a long way in the treatment of
those who violate the law, but have we really progressed in our understanding and reaction to
criminal events?
Prior to the eighteenth century, early theories of crime were based on superstition and
religious beliefs. They attempted to link criminality with evil spirits.
The elderly, the sick, economically independent women, and children were often accused
of practicing witchcraft and made scapegoats for those difficult times.
Public executions were often the norm and torture was applied until a confession was
If the confession was retracted, torture was applied again.
However, the sadistic practices of early times were abandoned for what was considered
progressive criminal justice theory
policy of the Enlightenment period.
The Classical School dominated this criminological period (ie enlightenment).
During this period, people entered into a social contract with the state in which they gave
up a portion of their freedom but, in return, the state would protect their right to live in
Classical theorists believed that:
Crime is a rationally calculated activity and not the work of the Devil.
People were rational beings who consistently calculate the consequences of their actions.
Deterrence theory can work if there is a sound criminal code and stable punishments that
everyone was aware of and understood.
Criminals would see that they would not profit from their actions and that the
punishments would cost them more than they would gain.
Powers of judges should be restricted.
Punishment should fit the crime.
The Classical School gave way to the Statistical School.
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