Earlier explanation for crimes:
Evil spirits and supernatural forces were seen as the cause of committing crime. Thus the misfortune
was seen a failure of their own moral failure. You had to be possessed by devils or the devil gave you
temptations that led you to commit crime. Normal person will not commit crime.
Led to very harsh treatment of offenders who were seen as threats to the religious order as well as the
This was a good way to divert attention (during a time of huge change in society) from the elite who
were corrupt and to place the blame on possessed people. Also they made themselves more powerful
as they alone had the power to get rid of these demons (religious authority). Those who went against
this order were considered to have committed heresy and punished. Witches=perfect scapegoat to
vent your anger and mainly victimized woman ( those in power in man dominated society)
Rapid social change. Came about during 17 and 18 centuries, there was a ‘scientific revolution’ in
which People began to look at the world very differently. Their Worldview based on experience
rather than just authority and faith and this Led to new approach to crime. Humanism for example
meant that we can trust people’s experiences on which we can based out knowledge.
(Enlightenment: radical thoughts came about. Rather then saying oh my god, you say oh my science.
What u could not see, touches, face, hear, did not exist). Called for human right and freedom and that
people are free and rational beings ( world based on people ability to reason rather then religion etc).
The landowners who had the outmost political power made still many of the laws. Even thought the
merchants had more money then them. When the monarch was fighting a lot of war, the merchants
came into help with money in exchange for political power. This led the to the implement of
enlighten principals and led to classical school.
Cesare Beccaria, who provided a focus fro the humanitarian reform movement with focus on the
inhumanity that characterized the CJS, started this school. He said abuse in CJS was routine and the
torture was inhuman. The punishment was th bad that about 350 offences (like property stolen such
as car) were punishable by death in 18 century England. About 70% of death sentences were for
robbery & burglary and bad cheques. This shows how the Moral and social and the legal order
functioned back then ( a very barbaric system).
Part of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, specifically the social contract theory (which is
when part of liberty is giving to the state, monarch, queen or some kind of authority in exchange
for security and protection of our lives and property). Hobbes and others said people entered into
a contract with the state for their mutual benefit. Citizens gave up some of their personal freedom
in exchange for protection by the ruler. (Authority to govern comes from the people and not from
god). This was a contract that bound both parties. The state could not violate the rights of
citizens and citizens had to obey the rules. Thus the harsh punishments for minor offences
violated the contract because the state had no right to abuse citizens.
CESARE BECCARIA (An Essay on Crimes & Punishment): Society needed a system of
punishment that was severe enough to deter, but not so harsh that rights were violated. This
would mean curbing arbitrariness, torture, etc. ( not torturing and so on to get a confession)
They argued that Deviance is the natural result of our rational selfinterest (it pays) (people did
not commit crimes due to devil but rather because it pays or something is to be derived from this
like economic benefits from banks). Supernatural forces are not responsible for criminality
A system of punishment must be set up to deter people from breaking the law. The punishment
should fit the crime, not the criminal. This punishment should be followed as soon as possible otherwise it will not be effective. The rules have to be simple enough so common person can
Judicial discretion was severely limited (they will have to follow that law given to them and not
make up any. Thus legislator/law makers are separate from the judiciary.) Everyone should be
equal before the law and Advocated the implementation of due process safeguards so no breaking
of this law occurs.
Our JS is shaped by this law even though there are flaws (like due process which is the separation
of the two legal system and equality before law)
WEAKNESSES OF CLASSICAL THEORY
Making the punishment fit the crime, not the criminal sounds reasonable, but circumstances (i.e.
motives, mental competence) of cases vary widely, so reducing judicial discretion (i.e. they can’t
say anything must follow the law as is) resulted in injustices ( if 13 year kill someone, should the
punishment still fit the crime. Or poor person paying 1000$ vs rich person, can mean a huge
difference in effect on that person)
Neoclassical criminologist rejected the notion of free will in that there must be individual
treatment of the offender because there are many factors that determine what decision we make
( mental competence, age, and other circumstances)
Deterrence doctrine (crime prevention based on fear of punishement) not as effective as hoped
because likelihood of punishment is low and cases take time to resolve
Notion of free rational person is oversimplified: individuals may face different objective realities
( there are many thing in life that effect our decision thus we are NOT free willed)
We think that people gain something when we commit crime but what about people who just kill
their kid they don’t gain anything
Lastly, this was NOT based on empirical evidence but rather philosophical speculation.
IMPACT OF CLASSICAL THEORY
Led to legal principles such as due process and equality before the law (such as the charter of
rights and so on).
However, the system has also adopted neoclassical reforms that allow more judicial discretion
and individualized justice ( like for the kids under the age of 18 thus creating two different justice
system for different people. It is a product of enlightenment. Our rights are all product of this as
Promulgation of individual rights and freedoms into law in France, USA, Canada, etc. owe its
inspiration to classical theory
The statistical school:
ANDREMICHEL GUERRY, ADOLPHE QUETELET, HENRY MAYHEW
Believed that crime, like other behavior, had natural social causes (it is like any other behavior.
But the epicenter of crime is in the society. If you are looking for reason of