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Chapter 2

Scott Clark- CRM102 Chapter 2.docx Crime and Criminology and Introduction 1ST EDITION

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CRM 102
Scott Clark

CRM102 Chapter 2 Classical Theory Social Context • Specific contours of legal change varied from nation to nation (Ex: power rested in the hands of the monarch in England + many other European countries) • Development of law + justice system was grounded in the transition from Feudalism to Capitalism • Law was maintained through the “divine rights of monarchs” + aristocracy ruled w/absolute power • Administration of justice tended to be haphazard, localized, irregular and unsystematic • Justice system reflected personal ties + connections of the powerful • Decisions regarding whether an act was criminal or not was a matter of personal opinion • Penalties for crime were high + torture and death were not uncommon even for minor offences • Over time monarchs started to fuse tradition into general law administration known as ‘common law’ • Absolute power of a monarch resulted in many revolutions and struggles • Increasing need for personal rights + freedoms – also very important • Individual rights helped the idea of “private property” • Notion of rights was used to justify a breaking of bonds between peasants and aristocracy • Thus the classical approach in law and criminology was born • Core of these changes was the relationship between individual rights, state and equality • Rights of human beings should be protected against arbitrary uses • After Canada became a country it wasn’t until 1982 when the Canadian Constitution was declared – including the charter of rights and freedoms • Canada’s legal system is bijuralism – two fundamental legal traditions  common + civil law • Common law developed in Britain and is based on decisions made by judges • Civil law based on Roman law is found in books, statutes and proclamations • Canada’s government means that both the parliament and territorial/provincial legislatures can make law • Parliament – only make laws when assigned by Constitution • Provincial – only make laws regarding matters in which it has been assigned Basic Concepts • Classical theory is based on the notion of individual rights, human capacity to reason + the rule of law • Human beings seen as self-seeking + self-interested individuals • Emphasized free will + choice • We choose what we do – must face the consequences • Individuals choose to act in accordance with what is rational • Classical theory considers the role of the state to be central • Social contrast between rights holders + the state • Individuals give up certain rights in order to be protected by the state • Rule of law means everyone is to be treated equally – expressed in the legal manifestation of the social contract • Social contract will protect legal rights against social institutions and corruption • Law is seen to be good + reflect the beliefs of law makers • Theory assumes a consensus in society about “good” and “bad” • In this framework any criminal act is seen as a matter of making the wrong choice • Since each person is equal under the law and given the same rights they choose their own actions and therefore must face the consequences • Social contract is maintained through the frequent use of punishment to deter individuals from committing crimes • Deterrence should be directed at both the individual (specific) and the society (general) • Response of the criminal justice system is focused on the criminal act • Rule of law demands that violation of the law be treated similarly – like cases should be treated the same • Uniformity of the law is set by the
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