What is the classical school of criminology and what are the main points of this theory. Cesare Beccaria was a key thinker of this theory and is also considered by some the founder of modern criminology. Classical school of criminology theory placed emphasis on human rationality and free will. Second off this theory unlike the others researched the prevention of crime not the criminals. Also, according to this theory, crime was the result of people choosing to do so with the possibility of the consequences be evident. The classical theory of Beccaria and others is what our constitution was based upon so as you can see, it has great significance to our society.
Humans are believed to act in their own best interests. We have our own free will and we also have a rational side to us. This was the basis of the classical criminology theory. Being the case, this theory emphasized laws that would stress non criminal actions would be in the best interest of society. Punishment and deterrence was an important factor in this theory because the punishment had to reinforce deterrence so people could rationalize the self benefits of criminality from the consequences of criminality.
Due to the fact that Beccaria believed that bad laws led to criminality, a lot of his emphasis was based on preventing crime and swift punishment when crime was committed. In his eyes punishment is justified only to defend the peace of society and that society would be motivated to abide by it. This meant that punishment was to treat the criminal, incapacitate them from repeating criminal acts and deter would be criminals. To incorporate these ideas Beccaria believed that punishment should be swift, certain, deterrence, proportional to the crime, clear and based on positive and negative reinforcement. Swift punishment is believed to deter the most.
According to Beccaria, when punishment promptly follows the crime, the punishment will be reinforced in a persons mind before they act criminally. A certain punishment is also a form of deterrence because the less would be criminals think they can get a way with, the more they will weigh in the consequences of that action. General deterrence is used for the purpose of setting and example for society. Laws should also be clear I defining crimes. This will prevent judges from interpreting the law and only allow them to decide if the law has been broken. Lastly, the most effective way in preventing crime is to enact clear laws that reward good behavior and punish bad behavior.
The theory of proportionality is another relationship between crime and punishment. The belief is that punishment can only deter if the punishment is proportional to the crime. The punishment must coincide with the crime in that the more serious the crime the more serious the punishment. Lastly, punishment existed to deter people from committing crime and the punishment should out way the gains of committing the act. Beccaria was a believer in that crime was due to unjust laws not because of the people committing the acts. fit the crime. He argued that if the punishment was more excessive than the crime it would be an abuse of power by the state and it would also create more crime.
Beccaria was considered the founder of the classical school of criminology. He emphasized human rationality and free will, preventing crime and deterrence of crime. The classical criminology theory was different from the other theories that were introduced to us because it focused on the reasons why people commit crimes not on the deviant behaviors themselves. Beccaria and his followers had a great impact on our country it is what our constitution and current laws are based upon.
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Cesare Beccaria”.
Keel, Robert. “Rational Choice and Deterrence Theory”. http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/200/ratchoc.html
Siegel, Larry. “Criminology”. Canada: Thomas Learning, Inc, 2003.