The modern criminology seems to be stemmed from the amalgamation of the two different schools of thoughts namely classical school originating in the 18th century and the positivist school beginning in the 19th century. It is therefore, necessary to analyze both school of thoughts with respect to crimes and criminals to know the similarities and difference shared by both school of thoughts.
It was a general trend before the 18th century to explain every phenomenon in religious context or in the context of spiritual nature. However, the 18th century gave a new world view to the people because of the advancement in the field of science and people started questioning the traditional beliefs, norms and political values. The traditional beliefs replaced by rationalism, humanism and a belief in the natural world fostered. The rationalism of eighteen century affected the field of criminology by bringing new perspective to look at the crimes and criminals. This new perspective was the beginning of classical school of thought in the field of criminology.
The classical school of the thought is based on the theory that people are free in making their decision and punishment has the potential to deter the crime. Therefore, the punishment should be carried out without delay because it is appropriate in proportion to the crime committed. The classical school of thought believes that people are pleasure seeker, but they are rational creature. The classical school of thought believes that human beings commit crime according to their free will and therefore, people should be held accountable for their wrongdoings. As compared to the classical school of thought the Positivist School of thought believes that individuals become involved in criminal activities because of social and psychological factors. However, the classical school of thought and Positivist school of thoughts is common in believing that criminal behavior could be controlled and the people’s inclination towards crime is because of human nature that is innate in all people.
The modern view on the punishment and death penalty seem closer to the Positivist school of thought but to some extent. The advancement in the field of psychology the modern people know more about the factors that provoke a person to be criminal. The modern people like the Positivist school of thought believe that the social factors besides human psychology lead individuals to involve in crime. People always do not commit willingly or on purpose. The modern people unlike the classical school of thought see crime stemming from society because of social factors and therefore, to punish the offenders will not be an act of justice but to identify or trace back the origin that instigate a person to follow the wrong pattern will be a success. Moreover, in the modern age the struggle of social activist in the context of spreading awareness about crime and punishment has made almost common public aware that punishment is not the final solution of any crime.
In addition to the classical and positivist approaches to crime, there is modern philosophy increasingly becoming popular and acceptable regarding crime and punishment. The notion of re-civilizing the criminals through various channels such as through probation and providing education is highly focused. The modern theories regarding crime and punishment share some qualities to the Positivist theory. In the modern period the concept of punishment is rapidly replacing with the reformation or re-civilization of the criminals and the concept crime is vicious not the criminals is making its head in the societies because of the development in literacy. Furthermore, the Classical and Positivist theories in a way see punishment a way to teach a lesson to the criminal so that they would not engage in criminal activities again but the modern theories never see punishment as a way to stop the wrongdoers committing crime. The modern theories put great emphasis on working out the factors that compel to involve in such activities.
Comparison of three theorists and their theories
Cesare Beccaria is generally considered the father of criminology. He was and Italian professor of law and his work “Crime and Punishment” became the manifesto for the reform of judicial and penal system throughout Europe. The book is consisted of his thought on crime and punishment and is a sort of request to the world to make punishment rational and more just. Beccaria’s philosophy is humanist and is a sort of protest against the treatment meted out to the criminal at his time. He was not against punishing the wrongdoers but he deems that the fundamental purpose of laws should be the safety of human beings instead to avenge crime. The philosophy of Beccaria succeeded in defying the death penalty and fostering the concept that punishment should not exceed to the level of crime. Beccaria put great stress on rational and fair penal structure. Therefore, he demands to punish criminal according to the written criminal codes.
Jeremy Bentham was a British lawyer and philosopher was an admirer and contemporary of Beccaria. Bentham’s major work A Fragment on Government and an Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation is consisted of the notion of social control. Some of the key terms of his philosophy are free will, principle of utility and hedonism. The principle of utility describes that the essential purpose of legislature should be to foster happiness and to lessen the suffering and pains of common people. The term hedonic is used to define the purpose of life to pursue happiness. Bentham believes that happiness innately is desirable and pain is not desirable. Free makes human beings capable of doing a particular work. If people chose to pursue pleasure through wrong way, they do so with freely with the wrongness of their action. Therefore, the aim of punishment should be rehabilitation and treatment of the element that instigate to commit a crime. He is in favor of executing the extreme category of criminals, impulsive should be imprisoned and the professional should be transported into a penal colony or eliminated.
Raffael Garofalo is also famous for his contribution to the Positivist school of thought and is renowned for his attempt to define crime. The Classical philosophers accept the legal definition of crime without any objection but Garofalo does not accept the legal definition of crime and seeks a natural definition for it. He believes that crime should be define according the action that a person carries out and if the action of a person is universally condemnable and is harmful for the universal human values such as integrity, honest and pit it should be considered as crime. He rejected the classical doctrine regarding punishment that it should fit the crime. He believes that criminal does not have complete control over their actions. Furthermore, Garofalo divides criminal into four categories namely extreme, impulsive, professional and endemic.
Garofalo’s concept of crime and punishment is different from the theories of other two criminologists because of his categorizing criminals into different categories. He also allows executing the criminal with respect to the nature of their crime, however, the other two theorists do not talk about the execution of criminals but discuss that the laws and legislation should be formulated to lessen the suffering and to maximize the happiness of individuals.
Among these three theories, Jeremy Bentham’s theory is more closely to me because of Jeremy believes that the fundamental purpose of life is to pursue happiness and therefore, the aim of legislation should be maximizing happiness and lessening the suffering of human beings. This is closer to my understanding of life. Furthermore, Jeremy also believes that human beings do not willingly involve into criminal activities but there are other factors such as social factors that provoke one to choose a wrong way. The punishment’s aim should not be to avenge crime but should be rehabilitation. The physical or mental punishment as well as the execution of criminals would be a sort of avenge and it increase the suffering of human being. The purpose of life is to pursue happiness and therefore, the legislation for criminals should also be made to increase happiness not suffering.
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