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Chapter 4

Chapter Four _ Classical Theories of Deviance.doc

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Nicole Myers

Chapter Four – Classical Theories of Deviance & Their Influence on Modern Jurisprudence Jurisprudence- law and principles that govern court decisions The deviant was no longer seen as a creature possessed by devils. He was a rational person who made self-serving choices. Five central tenets: • People are hedonistic – they seek pleasure & avoid pain • They have free will – they choose whether to commit offenses or conform to rules when solving problems • Society is in the form of a ‘social contract’ where each individual gives up some of his hedonistic pleasure to partake of the ‘greater good’ provided by social order • Punishment is justified as a means of transforming this hedonistic calculation so performance of duty is more rewarding than following a criminal path • Chief goal in life is not to achieve salvation but to reach the utilitarian goal – ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ Paradigm of classical school: • Includes explanation of noncriminal forms of deviance • We could also weigh the likelihood that our actions may cause friends to shun us, family to disown us. • Classical view could be described as ‘non causal’ [due to emphasis on free will]; it does invoke pain and pleasure as causal factors • Classical view became dominant during centuries where ideas of religion, rationality and science overlapped and competed with one another in a violent, disruptive way. • Ex: Galileo said the earth moved around the sun- a position that was inconsistent with Church Dogma at the time. • Strongest champions of the changing worldview – Philosophes  they were advocates of a new faith in reason, toleration, materialism, empiricism. Demonic Classical Time of Dominance 1400-1700 1700-1800 Conception of Deviance Evil Violation of social contract Explanation Moral weakness, Free will & hedonism temptation Remedies Exorcism, execution Imprisonment Social Justice − Holy terror was the law of the times − Process of accusation was biased against the powerless − Court officials could easily be bribed − They made up the law as they went along − Growing fear of the ‘dangerous classes’- people who were not under control of a master and were free to commit offenses − Disastrous wars, periodic return of disaffected soldiers, typhus and cholera epidemics, gin drunk by the poor because it was affordable, executions becoming scenes of drunken revelry  all these factors contributed to growing crime & disorder The philosophes expressed anger over inconsistencies of the social order. They developed a new vision of how society would be if it was based on rational principles that would ensure the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Voltaire was one courageous crusader of this time. He was imprisoned on false accusations for 11 months. He wrote two books. He spoke about the stupidity of those people who took natural disasters as religious phenomena. **Some of the philosophes said the greatest good is served when each of us give up some of our freedom to do as we please in order to preserve the safety and well-being of all [Spoke about the Leviathan- artificial monster made for our protection and established what is right and wrong. Two Reps of Classical School: Cesare Beccaria & Jeremy Bentham I. Cesare Beccaria • Famous essay on ‘Crimes & Punishments’ • He was deeply disturbed by what he heard and saw in prisons • His essay became focal point for action against barbaric practices in criminal law in Europe and England • Six points: 1. People are motivated by pain/pleasure. Crime is reasonable behaviour and it doesn’t mean the devil or illness 2. Basis of social action must be the utilitarian concept of greatest happiness for greatest number – NOT salvation or prep for end of the world 3. Each person should give up some of his freedom or hedonistic pleasure for benefit of whole society 4. Laws should be clearly written, widely known and uniformly enforced 5. Crime must be considered an injury to society. Any act of authority of one person over another unless it is out of absolute necessity is tyrannical; “Punishment should be in proportion to the seriousness of the crime”; Execution is not justifiable as it can’t be reversed if an error is found 6. Punishment is only justified on grounds that it helps prevent further criminal behaviour. II. Jeremy Bentham • Had a vision of social reform based on utilitarianism- principle that all things should be organized in a way to ensure max happiness for greatest number. • Founder of sect of utilitarian • Emphasized hedonistic pleasure • Nature has placed mankind under two sovereign masters: Pain & Pleasure • Developed idea of felicific calculus  actions are evaluated based on tendency to produce either pain or pleasure. This calculus would include pain and pleasures of wealth, desire, hunger • 6 elements to be considered for each person involved in an interaction: − Intensity − Duration − Propinquity − Certainty − Fecundity − Purity • People could do as they please as long as they don’t harm overall happiness of people around them • Since humans were hedonistic, crime could be prevented if all citizens were made to understand that punishment would swift, certain and greater than pleasure of crime. • Deviance could be controlled not by changing deviants but by changing rules; not by terrorizing people but by showing them that conformity is the best way to find happiness • His felicific calculus would assign definite values to pleasure & pain. Neoclassical Theory − Classical thought meant that each offense has the same penalty regardless of the circumstances under which it occurred. − Three concepts: 1. Mitigating Factors- in classical system, all assaults of a particular degree of seriousness were treated the same way. In neo-classical system, judge would take into account self-defence, delusions; attack was perpetrated by vicious bully 2. Past Record: in classical system, every offense was treated the same way whether it was the first-time or multiple-repeat offender. In neo-classical, repeat offender would be punished more severely. 3. Differences in free will- neoclassical systems have procedures to measure degree of responsibility the offender possesses; there are provisions for people who are mentally handicapped, insane. In the demonic system- the treatment an offender receives depends on social status and degree of influence over the judge. If a rich man murders someone, there won’t be any arrests or confinements. But if the murderer happened to be a peasant, there will be rough consequences. In the classical system- offender’s treatment will
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