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Chapter

Orthodox Criminology- Schissel

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC205H5
Professor
Zachary Levinsky
Semester
Winter

Description
Orthodox Criminology- limits of Consensus Theories of Crime Bernard Schissel Key Facts  Highest rate of incarceration in United States but prison population increasing internationally  DNA files stored in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System- joint Canada/US DNA forensic bank)- CODIS can identify a suspect  Percentage of prisoners with mental illnesses doubles in last decade in Canada  Psychopathy checklist (PCL) is a clinical rating scale of twenty items o PCL used to predict criminal reoffending and the likelihood of rehabilitation Introduction  Laws and definition of deviance changing over time and place o i.e. vagrancy laws in Canada o husbands couldn’t be charged with rape of wife prior to 1983 sexual assault legislation  traditional and contemporary consensus theories of criminology assumes that morality and rules banning behavior are natural, universal and unchanging  structural power- power that exists through economy, politics and other forms of privilege  criminal justice system in world based on consensus assumes that bad behavior can be identified and corrected or punished, a philosophical approach that tends to psychologize crime as something living within the individual  popularity of traditional and consensus theories stems in part from their claim to scientific support- that empirical and objective research procedures will uncover “facts” of crime and in part from belief that they are intuitively logical: good people do good things and bad people to bad things o these theories focus on certain types of crime that are largely individual and highly visible on streets; thus they appeal to those in positions of power/influence o tend to isolate and condemn those who are powerless and thus unable to object to cultural definitions of crime- evident in the characteristics of prisoners (young, poor, mostly male, poorly educated) Classical Theory and Modern Extensions  prior to the enlightenment period, knowledge was religion based o criminals exterminated in belief that the devil could literally be burned out of existence o only morality defined by God and to understand the world believers needed to find what God wanted o crime understood as result of natural tendencies towards hedonism or of human tendencies towards self-preservation Beccaria and Bentham and Classical Criminology  classical theorists envisioned crime as result of rational, calculated decisions by humans who are predisposed to maximize pleasure and minimize pain  basic principles: people basically hedonist, people have free will, people form social contract with society whereby they agree to put benefit of society before themselves and punishment is a form of social control as it changes pleasure-pain calculus keeping criminals/crime under control  César Beccaria- punishment only justified if it deterred hedonistic pursuits o Punishment as means of social control and should be minimized; only enough to prevent further crime o Classical theorists like Beccaria abhorred punishment (specially execution) and recommended prison as appropriate form of minimal punishment  Jeremy Bentham used mathematical models to understand and evaluate nature of crime and deterrent effect of punishment o Argued that money and other societal resources should be used in proportion to degree of seriousness of crime o Punishment should never exceed degree necessary to prevent certain behavior  Prison was an ideal form of punishment for classical theorists  State could also use prison as place where prisoner could re-evaluate social contract and learn about conformity in the prison structure  Panopticon architecture- circular design in which prison officials occupy central observation tower surrounded by cells situated in circular pattern around the tower and opening in centre o Allowed prison officials to watch inmates and staff without being seen o Inmates and staff would conduct themselves because of certainty of being seen o Michel Foucault- used concept of panopticon to represent omnipresent forces of social control in modern society Modern Classical Theory  Justice system today takes mitigating circumstances into account when judging culpability for criminal action o i.e. self-defense not criminal by virtue of act o considering record of offender and adjusting punishment based on this  neo-classical thought- free will not uniform and law must account for disparities in will to commit criminal/deviant acts o i.e. law consider offenders who have some sort of insanity or commit acts under duress not having free will o basis of neo-classical theory is that it is better to prevent crime than to punish it and that punishment is unsavory no matter how it is administered  deterrence theory is a brand of social-control theory that studies types of positive and negative sanctions that encourage normal behavior and discourage/deter abnormal behavior o attempts to assess effectiveness of official, state-administered punishment in (i) individual violator (specific deterrence) and (ii) general public (general deterrence) from engaging in targeted act o individuals that are aware of punishments take this into account when they choose to commit or refrain from deviant behavior o one basic premise of our system of law and punishment is the principle of deterrence and cost- benefit  James Q. Wilson, argued against position that crime was a function of poverty and lack of privilege that could be changed/corrected by investing in government programs o Described typical criminal as basically wicked and untamed by convention o Primary purpose of justice system to make sure that anti-social individuals face consequences of their actions o State’s mandate is to deter through harsh punishment and to incapacitate through imprisonment o **crime tendencies are part of individual makeup  Criticisms: distribution of crime unequal across social groups o Laws written by powerful people and tend to give privilege to those in positions of power and authority Biological and Psychological Positivism: The Pathology of Criminality  Classical theory doesn’t explain certain types of deviant/abnormal behavior  Acts that stem from truly evil sources deny logical social explanations o Tend to explain such behaviors by invoking medical concepts of pathology or sickness  Basic premise: deviant behavior is a condition lodged within the individual o Some people follow deviant paths not for rational reasons but because of a disease or defect of the body/mind  Advocate correcting the mal-condition and use medical model of cure or rehabilitation o Based on positivist model of understanding the world- model founded on principles of science and evidence-gathering to uncover secrets of both natural and social worlds o Explains crime by studying biology and/or psychology of individual and linking differences between people to biological/psychological factors Lombrosan Legacy and Social Darwinism  Earliest biological theories linked evil/abnormal behavior with idea of human evolution assuming that evil humans were evolutionary regressive/atavistic  Charles Darwin- concept of survival of the fittest  Social Darwinists maintained that marginalized and the unacceptable were less fit than more privileged people in society o Criminals and deviants proliferating because society was interfering with natural selection by artificially sustaining less fit and less deserving people  César Lombroso- argued that criminal behavior was a symptom of a lower position on the evolutionary scale o Inmates characterized by physical aberrations (i.e. high cheekbones, foreheads that stick out, poor teeth, malformed arms/legs) o Therefore, deviants could be distinguished from normal people because of their atavistic body characteristics  Poverty/malnutrition can produce physical abnormalities and need to engage in criminal activity Contemporary Biosocial Research  William Sheldon- attempted to link body type to criminal and deviant behavior o Argued that certain body types ectomorph (skinny and fragile), mesomorph (muscular, stocky and athletic), and endomorph (soft, round and fat)each have associated temperaments and behaviors o Found high percentage of criminals, especially juvenile gang members, to be mesomorph o Cause and effect relationship between physiology and behavior  General findings suggest greater similarity in deviant behavior for identical compared to non-identical twins  Cheater theory (evolutionary approach)- in society there in a subpopulation of men who have evolved with genes that predispose them to low parental involvement  Biosocial theories like this one condemn people for their lack of intelligence, their lower-class origins, their regressive evolutionary conduct, their inability to maintain a nuclear family and their dependence on the state  Bad people are out there and they are unlike normal people; their biology, psychology and their environment combine to make them monsters  Gene-mapping carries almost foolproof potential for identifying suspects using evidence from crime scenes, absolving those wrongly accused, establishing paternity and tracking criminals based on DNA  Discovery of genetic basis for various disorders raises the possibility of identifying genes connected to criminal behavior o Potential of giving someone (at an early age), a DNA based identity that has moral definition attached to it o If we have ability to detect and prove that person has genetic predisposition to crime, it can create a new taxonomy that links genetic makeup to criminality o **whether the person with genetic flaw has guilty mind (mens rea) when he committed the act  Research failed to control for psychological and social factors that interact with biology  Potential policy implications affecting genetic engineering and selective abortions of defective fetuses involve kind of tampering with human life that would be carried out with scientific passion but without moral weight  Who gets to say what a good or bad gene is? Psychological Theories  Focus on causes of crime as originating from within the individual  Character and personality are acquired traits and not just inherited  Id- mostly animalistic part of personality that leads to aggressive, self-destructive, and anti-social tendencies conflicts with ego (social self) and superego (conscience)  Frustration-aggression hypothesis suggests that frustration, a result of unmet needs, leads to aggressive behavior that may be manifested in anti-social or self-destructive behavior  Albert Bandura and Richard Walters- suggest that people come to behave aggressively through process called modeling (when individuals who observe deviant/criminal behavior of others being rewarded are prone to internalize the rewarded behavior as acceptable) o Influence that violence on TV has on deviant behavior- if the viewer is exposed to depictions of crime and deviance that are socially acceptable, then that person may become insensitive to crime and deviance and may no longer see acts of violence as negative  B.F. Skinner- behaviorism assumed that behavior was instilled through reward and punishment and because behavior is learned, bad behavior can be unlearned  H.J. Eysenck- immoral behavior resulted from improper conditions; children never learn to associate fear and pain with bad conduct o Considered that conditioned fear as the basis of conscience o Stressing effects of fear and punishment on moral development, theory of cognitive development focused on how moral development coincides with stages of psychological and physical maturity  Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg- individual is the source of badness; deviants characterized by deficits in moral reasoning, these deficits occur at certain stages of psychic development, and redirecting individual through appropriate stages of development can rectify deviant tendencies  Emphasis on the individual p
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