Aims of Criminology Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2905 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 25  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Criminology

The beginnings of criminology in the United States began with the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution and is a theory relating to criminal behavior of individuals. The theoretical framework is criminology within this view is one that is straightforward and simple and states that the individual, upon having been informed of a specific penalty for the commission of a crime will inherently weigh the options. Measurement of the options is based upon the potential present and future pleasure weighed against the potential present and future pain for having committed the crime, been caught and punished. There have been various theories posited to attempt to pin down precisely the precise theoretical framework that identifies the method to fulfill the 'aim' of criminology, which is to 'speak truth to power'. This work examines the degree to which criminology is in reality able to achieve this aim from the various theories posited as being the one that best describes the aim of criminology.

I. CLASSICAL CRIMINOLOGY

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Classical criminology is stated to have grown from "a reaction against the barbaric system of law, justice, and punishment that was in existence before 1789." (Criminological Theory, 2001) Classical criminology focused on "free will and human rationality." (Theory, 2001) Classical criminology had as its focus the making of law and processing of legal matters instead of having any interest in the study of the criminal because this theory of criminology held that crime "was activity engaged in out of total free will and that individuals weighed the consequences of their actions." (Theory, 2001) Within this framework, punishment was used as deterrence from commission of crime and that the measure of punishment should be "greater than the pleasure of physical gains." (Theory, 2001) the emphasis in classical criminology is a "legal definition of crime rather than white defined criminal behavior.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Aims of Criminology Assignment

Two writers who were influential in leading the human rights and free will movement were: (1) Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794); and (2) Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). The Classical movement is a reflection of the influence of the Declaration of Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. The focus of Bentham was 'utilitarianism', which is a theory that makes the assumption that the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people is the basis of law. It was the belief of Bentham that the likelihood of pleasures in the present and future against the likelihood of pain in the present and future. Therefore the human could be likened to a mathematical equation in that they factored the choices to either abide by or break the law into some type of quantitative analysis or in other words the individual 'calculates' if the chance is worth taking to commit the crime.

The work of Becceria holds that people are not bad but instead, laws are bad. Becceria's work entitled: "On Crimes and Punishment" is stated to have "presented a new design for the criminal justice system that served all people. His book dubbed him the 'father of modern criminology'." (Criminological Theory, 2001) the positivists desired to provide an explanation for the world in which they lived and held the view that biological, social and psychological traits of the individual. The perspective of the positivists was deterministic in nature in that the focus was on the behavior of criminals rather than the issues of legality and crime prevention was sought through offenders being reformed in treatment. The positivists were firm believers in using techniques that were scientific in nature therefore, data collection was conducted in order to conduct analysis and thereby provide explanations relating to individual differentials types and phenomena of a social nature. The theory of evolution was formulated by anthropologists and naturalists, which served as a "very critical component to the study of human criminal behavior by the positivists. Humans were responsible for their own destinies." (Criminological Theory, 2) Systematic observations and collection of evidence in an objective research initiative within the deductive framework.

II. DETERMINISM

The work of Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) presented the notion of 'determinism' which was a theory posited by he and his followers that resulted in the positivists view of criminology seeking to understand criminal behavior through research of a scientific nature including experimentation. This theoretical framework held that the individual is born predisposed to be a criminal or is "criminal born" and furthermore held that the features of apes were human features only not fully developed. Lombroso conducted research in which he measured thousands of prisoners, both dead and alive in order to prove the theory he had posited. Lombroso is stated to have noted the fact that "criminals lacked moral sense, had an absence of remorse and used much slang. Lombroso later added social and economic factors to his list of crime causation but said they were second in nature to biological, predetermined factors. His theory however has been kept alive, not by agreement but by much criticism." (Criminological Theory, 2001)

III. The CHICAGO SCHOOL'S VIEW of CRIMINOLOGY

The 'Chicago' School's focus on the behavior of the individual is that factors such as social, physical and environmental factors were determinants of the behavior of he individual rather than factors such as genetic predisposition or personal characteristics. Within this theoretical framework the community is held to be a primary and critical factor influencing the individual's behavior and that, the human lives within the micro-system identified by the Chicago School as the community that the individual lives in. It was held by this school of thought that complications in the lives of the individual had arisen directly resulting from "urbanization and mobility into the city..." (Criminological Theory, 2001)

There were two contributions of the Chicago School to this area of study. First "was the usage of official data, such as census reports, housing/welfare records and crime figures." (Criminological Theory, 2001) Superficiality is a characteristic of the city as anonymity is the status quo and relationships are fleeting and life is characterized by very weak bonds between family members. The Chicago School viewed the breaking down of primary social relationships as a prerequisite for disorganization on the social level. The pathology in the city of Chicago observed by criminologists at the Chicago School and that pathology led to criminal behavior. It is noted by the Chicago School that fragmentation of values as well as oppositional views concerning behavior that is proper conflict with other behavior.

IV. ROUTINE ACTIVITIES THEORY

The 1979 work of Larry Cohen and Marcus Felson posited the 'Routine Activities' theory which was popular even throughout the decade of the 1980s. The 'Routine Activates' theory is very much akin to the Rational Choice theory in that characteristics of crime are the focus instead of the offender characteristics. The basis of this theory is the proposition that a "vast supply of crime motivation" will always be in existence and "such motivation and supply of offenders remains constant." (Criminological Theory, 2001) Three critical components stated to be required for a criminal act that is predatory in nature include:

1) Motivated offenders;

2) Suitable targets; and 3) the absence of capable guardians. (Criminological Theory, 2001)

If only one of these three is lacking "crime is not likely to occur" however, in the presence of all three of these elements the likelihood that a crime will occur increase. The argument posited by Cohen and Felson is that "the rate in which crime rises is equal to the number of suitable targets and the absence of individuals to protect those targets." (Criminological Theory, 2001) the 'Routine Activities states that "criminal offenses are related to the nature of everyday patterns of social interaction." (Criminological Theory, 2001) This view is one that holds that changing that occur in society which result in societal disorganization results in more crime opportunity being present. Situational factors are held by Cohen and Felson to strongly influence criminal activity. Prevention of crime within this theoretical framework is through what is known as 'target hardening' which means that actions are taken which make it difficult if not impossible for those who would commit crimes to do so such as locking doors, using burglar alarms systems, and community crime neighborhood watch programs.

V. SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION THEORY

Another theory of criminology is known as 'Social Disorganization' and is one that is associated closely with the 'Chicago School' criminology theory. Social disorganization "refers to both an explanation deviance and a state of society that produces it." (Criminological Theory, 2001) This theory arose from intellectual development and its explanation is rooted in deviation in societal norms and activities in the community. Within this theoretical framework organization on the social level of society include customs being integrated as well as "...teamwork, high morale and bonding. This led to harmonious social relationships." (Criminological Theory, 2001) Those who adhered to this theory of criminology believed that social disorganization was evident in most of city life and utilized the city as a laboratory for the study of crime and deviant behavior. The work of Park and Burgess relates an analysis of crime… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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