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Lecture 2
Classical Criminology
Positivist Criminology
Biological Determinism
Psychological Determinism
Sociological Determinism
Roots of Classical Criminology
 Grew out of reaction against barbaric system of law,
punishment and justice before 1789.
Crime viewed as rebellious act committed by poor against
rich/political structure.
punishment justified as mean to establish/maintain order
(mentality remains?)
There was no system of Criminal Justice in Europe. There
were crime against the state, the church and the crown.
Punishment was very severe and a form of public
Classical Criminology
 Cesare Beccaria: one of the founders of the classical
 Unfair punishment, abuse of power & corrupt economic
systems that taxed the poor to support rich/powerful
 Separation of church and state
Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)
Punishment should:
o be a deterrent
o be swift and certain
o fit the crime
5 -5
Beccaria’s Principles
 On Crime and Punishment: outlined an enlightened
criminal justice system to serve the people and not the
1. Laws should be used to maintain the social contract
2. Only legislators should create laws
3. Judges should impose punishment only in accordance with
the law
4. Judges should not interpret the laws
5. Punishment should be based on the pleasure/pain
6. Punishment should be based on the act, not on the actor
Beccaria’s Principles (cont.)
The punishment should be determined by
the crime
Punishment should be prompt and effective
All people should be treated equally
Capital punishment should be abolished
The use of torture to gain confessions should
be abolished
It is better to prevent crimes than to punish
Do you support Beccaria’s Principles? Justify your
Beccaria’s Main Points
 Equality
 Liberty
 Utilitarianism
 Humanitarianism
The Classical School
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
 Pain must outweigh pleasure.
Hedonistic calculus / utilitarianism
5 -9
Jeremy Bentham
 Bentham was also concerned with achieving “the greatest
happiness of the greatest number”
Utilitarianism assumes all human actions are calculated in
accordance with their likelihood of bringing happiness
(pleasure) or unhappiness (pain).
Deterrence: General – Specific
Bentham proposed the felicific calculus
Discussion: According to utilitarian principles, should abortion
be legalized when a baby can be profiled (by his/her family
history) as a high risk for a life in crime? Should we revisit
sterilization to prevent certain people from reproducing?
Neo-classical School
Rossi; Garraud; Joly
In response to failure of rehabilitation & public
protest for return to harsher punishments & that
punishment should fit crime
The Neo-Classical School endorsed the major
principles of the old school. However, they
highlighted two fundamental exceptions:
Rejection of the rigidity of the classical system of
Subjectivity when assessing criminal responsibility
Soft-determinism & Rational choice theory
Group Discussion
 Evaluate the claims made by advocates and opponents
of the death penalty. Which arguments do you find the
most compelling?
 Debate the issue - death penalty
2. Positivist Criminology
 Switch from a focus on the crime to a focus on the
 Comte: applied modern methods of physical
sciences to the social sciences (the law of the three
stages; The Theocratic stage, The Metaphysical
stage, and The positivity stage).
 Darwin: challenged the doctrine of creation with
his theory of evolution
 turning point in criminological thought was Darwin’s
Origin of Species
Biological Determinism- Phrenology
 Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828)
Shape of human skull could predict criminality.
The roots of personality are in the brain.
Scientific understanding.
Systematic evaluation.
By 19th century, these sciences introduced specific biological
factors into the study of crime causation
6 -14
The Italian School
 Lombroso
 Replaced the concept of free will with that of determinism
 The ‘born criminal’ & atavistic stigmata
 occasional criminal
 insane
 criminal by passion
 Ferri
 Agreed with biological bases of criminal behaviour
 Also recognized importance of social, economic & political determinants
 Key: devotion to preventive measures based on scientific methods
 Garofalo
 Study of crime through scientific methods
 Look to psychological or ‘moral anomalies’ for roots of criminal behaviour
Lombroso: Father of Modern Criminology
 Atavism - morphological study, criminal
 4 types of criminals
 born criminal
 occasional criminal
 insane
 criminal by passion
 First to write about the female offender
Challenges to Lombrosian Theory
 Charles Goring: Offered the major challenge to
Lombrosian theory
 Studied 3,000 convicts and compared them to Oxford and
Cambridge University students, hospital patients, and
 Successfully disputed Lombroso’s claim of a born criminal
- Psychological Determinism
 Early link between law and psychology questioned the
criminal responsibility of those deemed to be ‘morally
insane’ (Isaac Ray).
 New measurement techniques to study offenders
 Ex. IQ tests
-Sociological Determinism
 Interest in relation of crime to factors such as
poverty, age, sex, race, climate
 Society, not individual offenders, was responsible
for criminal behaviour
 Gabriel Tarde: laws of imitation
 Looks to how individuals become criminal
More on Sociological Determinism
 Emile Durkheim:
 Looked to social structure and its institutions
 Crime seen as a normal part of society
 Crime creates social solidarity
 Crime creates social change
 Anomie: breakdown of social order as a result of a loss of
standards and values
Law vs. Science
Classical School
 Based on reforming
criminal law &
maintaining social order
through criminal
 Retribution and revenge
 Reform the law
Positivist School
 Embraces determinism –
rather than punish
someone not capable of
controlling actions, special
consideration &
conditioning might be
 Reform and rehabilitation
 Reform the man
 Oscar Newman: modify the environment
 C.R. Jeffery: interaction of biology, behaviour, and
 Proactive vs. reactive process
 Police - ‘Geographic Profiling’
 Address the OPPORTUNITY (real or perceived) to commit
crimes in order to deter/prevent