Access Criminology, Unit 1 ‘Critically evaluate the assumptions and claims of early classical and Italian positivist criminology’. Aims and objective of this essay During this essay I aim to critically evaluate the two schools of thinking, evaluate the assumptions and claims of early classical criminology and Italian positivist criminology. I am going to do this firstly by evaluating each school, Classical criminology and Italian positivist criminology and explaining the difference’s , strengths and weaknesses between both theory’s. Introduction
The school of classical criminology differs significantly from the thinking demonstrated under the positivist approach to crime. Classical criminology has its origins in the concepts of free will, individual decision-making and the benefits of society to the individual. The school addresses the problem of crime using punishment and deterrent actions. On the other hand, positivism rejects the concept of the individual and free will and instead embraces the idea of enduring evolutionary traits that define a basic criminal personality, and which can be assessed using scientific methods.
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The two perspectives, though very different (and even contradictory) in nature, both provide the basis for a cohesive overall approach to addressing the problem of crime as a wide variety of approaches are incorporated Classical School of criminology Classical criminology refers to the idea that criminals act upon their own free will and decisions were based on ‘Hedonism’ (the pleasure plain principle). There are 2 names that appear most common when discussing classical criminology Jeremy Bentham and Cesare Beccaria.
They were considered two of the most important enlightenment thinkers in this particular area. They both came from very different philosophical positions but sought after the same idea, to limit the barbarity of the 18th century systems of justice. It was Beccaria that implemented the idea of criminals acting upon free will and hedonism, Beccaria argued that Human’s rationally choose actions that will bring them pleasure and avoid actions that will bring them pain, the person who chooses to commit a crime, therefore, deserves to be punished because they chose to freely commit a wrongful act.
Beccaria also believed that the degree of punishment assigned to a crime should be painful enough to outweigh any pleasure that would be derived from committing the crime in the first place. Beccaria was basically saying the punishment should ‘Fit the Crime’. Beccaria’s contribution to concept of justice was that the law should be impartial ??? all people are equal in the eye’s of the law, also that judge’s are instruments of the law, they are only to determine a person’s innocence or guilt and to impose the penalties that are prescribed by the law.
HANDOUT HISTORICAL PREDECESSORS TO 20TH-CENTURY CRIMINOLOGY. STEVE 2008. Bentham and Beccaria believed in the same theories such as the theory of ‘hedonism’ the idea that human behaviour is generally directed at avoiding pain and maximising pleasure, and felt that individuals broke the law in order to gain excitement, money, sex, or something else that was of particular value, also the idea of a “social contract” where we give up some of our freedom for security and to commit a crime would be breaking this contract.
And utilitarianism ??? promoting the greatest possible good for the greatest possible number. However there were some differences between Bentham and Beccaria for instance, they both rejected the death penalty, however Bentham did argue that it could be used in such cases of murder, his point of argument was that in almost all cases its negative consequence would outweigh any positive ones that might ensue. TIM NEWBURN, CRIMINOLOGY (2005) WILLAN PUBLISHING – DEVON.
Bentham also argued, in contrast to Beccaria, that increased penalties for recidivist (repeat) offenders were to be justified because of the potential offences committed by such criminals. Bentham was also a firm believer in the efficacy (effectiveness) of the prison service. Bentham and Beccaria both agreed that the punishment should fit the crime, and the punishment should be severe enough to outweigh any pleasure that could be gained by the criminal act, and therefore would act as a deterrent to any aspiring criminal, This has become the foundations for the modern criminal justice system.
The classical school of criminology brought about a demand for a more humane society and social reform, basically a justice system for the common criminal, it put an end to cruel forms of punishment and arbitrary punishment (capital punishment). The classical school help to bring about a rational and predictive system of punishment based on a rule of law and due process which allowed a crime to be effectively punished, causing a sense of nhappiness or pain to the criminal which was enough to outweigh the pleasure the criminal gained from committing the offence in the first instance. The system acted as a deterrent people who considered committing a crime as they saw that the punishment was not worth the crime. This theory did not recognise the mentally ill or people that were unable to make decisions due to particular factor’s in their life such as mental problems etc.
So as a result they were treated as your average common criminal and maybe were unjustifiably sentenced incorrectly and received the same punishment as someone who was able bodied and able to think rationally and act on free will and hedonism. Italian Positivist Criminology The positivist school of criminology basically defines that a criminal is born and favours rehabilitation to punishment, in effect to reintroduce the offender into society as a reformed character. The positivist approach is a more scientific belief and is divided into biological.
Psychological and social. Cesare Lombroso (considered the founding father of positivism), rejected the established classical school, which held that crime was a characteristic trait of human nature. Instead using concepts drawn from physiognomy, early eugenics, psychiatry and social Darwinism, Lombroso’s theory of anthropological criminology essentially stated that criminality was inherited, and that someone ‘born criminal’ could be identified by physical defects, which confirmed a criminal as savage, or atavistic.
Lombroso suggested that these members of society were atavistic throwbacks to an earlier evolutionary form. Biological positivism was the main theory studied by Lombroso and is based on physiognomy (a person’s looks) and phrenology which linked attributes of the mind to the shape of the brain as revealed though the shape of the skull, making individual offenders who were biologically distinguishable from law-abiding citizens. These theories were popular because society and any failures of its government were not the cause of crime.
Enrico Ferri was a student of Cesare Lombroso. However, where as Lombroso researched the physiology factors that motivated criminals, Ferri investigated social and economic factors. He also disputed Lombroso’s emphasis on physiological characteristics of criminals, which he believed accounted for the development of crime in an individual. Ferri’s work served the basis for Argentina’s penal code of 1921. Social positivism mainly studied by Ferri identifies society as the cause of criminality.
For example an individual that grew up in an area were famine was highly present this person would be more likely to commit a crime. Raffaele Garofalo was also a student of Lombroso, he rejected the doctrine of free will and supported the position that crime can be understood only if studied by scientific methods. He attempted to formulate a sociological definition of crime that would designate those acts which can be repressed by punishment.
These constituted “natural crime” and were considered offences violating the two ‘basic altruistic sentiments’ common to all people, namely, ‘probity’ (respect for others property) and pity (revulsion at suffering for others). HANDOUT ‘THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF POSITIVIST, ANTHROPOLOGICAL CRIMINOLOGY. STEVE 2008. Psychological positivism was based on the fact that criminality was inbuilt, that a mental illness or a weak conscience can be the cause of criminality also a maternal depreviation was also a factor that might lead to criminality, now more commonly referred to as general privation or ‘broken homes’.
It has been stated that certain types of personality may be more prone to react with anti-social or criminal behaviour. HTTP://EN. WIKIPEDIA. ORG/WIKI/POSITIVIST_SCHOOL, ACCESSED 17:22, 13/10/2008. As a pose to classical school criminology that did not recognise those that were mentally ill or unable to make a decision based on free will and hedonism, positivism did as the general thought to punishment was that the punishment should fit the criminal not the crime, not the punishment should fit the crime as in the classical school.
This enabled people that had mental difficulties to be treated more fairly within the justice system and a lesser penalty was given to those who were recognised as mentally ill or unable to make such rational decisions for themselves. Positivism was a scientific method to criminology which meant that all information put forward had to be backed up with hard evidence gathered using scientific experiments. It has established links between biology and crime, and also the social and psychological factors all of which are still being used today in modern criminology.
Some of the experiments conducted mainly by Lombroso gave rise to strong feelings, and led him to thrown down various challenges to his most vociferous critics. Charles Goring distanced himself from some of the cruder ideas of criminal anthropology, but espoused ideas clearly influenced by eugenics. His study, which took over 13 years, examined 3,000 English convicts together with a control group of non-convict males, and concluded that there were no significant physical differences between the two groups.
All though positivism did give a fairer trial to those mentally ill or incapable of making decisions, it was very deterministic, in the way anybody who had a slight facial dysfunction was classed as a possible criminal this in one way or another could have put the entire population into the category of criminalism. Conclusion The classical school and the Italian positivist school of criminology both have their own strengths and weaknesses and without one school or the other modern criminology would not be as evolved as it is today, both have responsibility for moulding the justice system.
Classical criminology is not as widely used within the legal system but evidence of it can be found being used in juries. Lombroso conducted experiments involving mock juries and found that attractive people were found to be less likely to be convicted and being attractive, female and appearing to be of high social economic status is all advantageous in criminal justice decision making. Classical criminology began the evolution of the criminal justice system as it fought to provide a fair more humane way of convicting criminals and rather than just execute each individual, it tried to use the system as a deterrent.
This is how classical and positivist criminology is similar they fought for a fairer justice system, but where as classical believed the punishment should fit the crime, positivist approach was that the punishment should fit the criminal, for example if a mentally ill person committed a crime, theft, a more lenient sentence would be given as the individual was believed to not have the ability to decide to do the act (free will) and would not gain any pleasure from it (hedonism). Positivism is all about hard evidence and scientific methods are used to gather the data required so therefore can be eavily backed up. This theory appears to be most commonly used throughout modern criminology and therefore it could be argued that positivism became the stronger theory in criminology, although some aspects of the classical school are used in modern criminology. Bibliography HANDOUT HISTORICAL PREDECESSORS TO 20TH-CENTURY CRIMINOLOGY. STEVE 2008. TIM NEWBURN, CRIMINOLOGY (2005) WILLAN PUBLISHING – DEVON. HANDOUT ‘THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF POSITIVIST, ANTHROPOLOGICAL CRIMINOLOGY. STEVE 2008. HTTP://EN. WIKIPEDIA. ORG/WIKI/POSITIVIST_SCHOOL, ACCESSED 17:22, 13/10/2008.