The Influence That Criminology Has Had on the Criminal Justice System Since 1750

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The Influence That Criminology Has Had on the Criminal Justice System Since 1750

The question is what is criminology and what effect has it had on the criminal justice system? The study of criminology has had a significant effect on the criminal justice system since the 1700’s. There are three main schools of thought within criminology, they are -Classicist -Positivist -Chicago/Subculture theory Discussion Criminology is the study of causation, correction and the prevention of crime. Criminology was brought about during the late 18th century when people sought the reform of the criminal justice and penal systems.

This was because they saw the system at the time as cruel and inhuman, because the systems were applied unequally and were subject to large amounts of corruption. They were seen as inhuman as they often used death or torture as forms of punishment no matter what the crime committed was (Farlex, n. d). During the early 18th century there is an obvious decrease in the amount of power held by the church and an increase in poverty. Also at this time there is a marked increase in crimes being committed. There was a great need to establish a better criminal justice system (Dawkin, J, 2011).

This brought about the classicist school of thought, the leading writer within classicist theory is Cesare Banesano Beccaria (1738-1794) he wanted the law to apply equally to everyone, instead of some people being able to buy their way out of punishments others who held positions within society which allowed them to be exempt. Baccaria also wanted crimes to hold specific punishments and that these punishments should be standardised by legislatures, he believed this would avoid abuses of power within both the criminal justice system and also the penal system to some extent (Farlex, n. ). Jeremy Benthem, was also a leading writer of classicist theory, both he and Baccaria wrote that all people are rational and have free will, so therefore commit crime by choice.

Benthem also believed that people made the choices they did because they are seeking pleasure and that people will avoid causing themselves pain. Baccaria and Benthem concluded that the punishment received for committing a crime could be seen as a form of pain and so should be one greater than the pleasure gain from committing that crime (Farlex, n. d)

The beliefs: -That all people are rational People commit crime by choice -The punishment of a crime should be equal to the pleasure gained create the foundation of what is seen as classicist theory today, classicists believe that preventing crime is as important as punishing crime but also that it is important restrict people as little as possible. (Farlex, n. d) During the 19th century it was noticed that even though there had been changes made to the criminal justice system, in line with classicist theory, there did not appear to be any changes to the crime rates (Dawkins, J, 2011).

At this time positivist theory were becoming apparent, they give a more scientific approach to criminology, Cesare Lombroso was the most well know of the positivist writers. Lombroso was mainly influenced by Dawins theory of evolution, he believed that a persons physical features could determine whether they were likely to display criminal behaviour. Lombroso believed that a persons cranial, skeletal and neurological malformations could give a clue to whether a person would commit a crime or not, he believed that biology created aa criminal class.

However since lambroso wrote about this theory, he has been disagreed with harshly (Farlex, n. d) Lombroso did have a much bigger effect on criminology, when he emphasized the difference causes of crime, those included environmental causes that have no biological basis (Farlex, n. d) he also believed that somebody could be born a criminal and that criminality was not a choice but in you genes, this is known as “Atauism” (Akeis, R. L and Sellor, C.

S, 2004) The Chicago school is the scientific study of social problems, if there is an understanding of how social, physical and environmental factors affect people then by studying them it may be possible to find a solution to them. This school of thought believes that the community plays a big factor in how and why people behave the way that they do (umsl, n. d. ). Albert Cohen was the first sociologist to develop a Chicago/subculture theory. The main idea within the Chicago theory is that the area people live in has a direct effect on the way in which those people act.

In particular the study looks at younger boys who have underachieved in education, living in inner city areas. Cohen found that mainstream values of success created problems for young working class males -They did badly at school -They failed to gain the skills needed to succeed in society Cohen coined the term “Status Frustration” to describe the way in which young working clss males became easily frustrated with their low status in society as a result of their lack of income and they underachievement.

Due to status frustration and all the elements that cause status frustration they are often labelled by their peers and elders which results in them getting little respect, this often leaves young working class males to believe that there is no other alternative than committing crime, specifically stealing the things that they want in order to stop being labelled as a “loser” and gain the respect that they crave from the peers and elders (Smith . D, n. d).

The subculture that these young working class males often belong to actually support the idea that school in a “waste of time” and “not and important part of their future”, which leads to them believe that they do not need to succeed within education (Smith . D, n. d) “Members of such subcultures take the norms and values of mainstream society and turn them “upside down”, where as anti-social and criminal behaviour is looked down upon by wider society, it is highly valued by the delinquent subculture” The consequences of turning mainstream norms and values on their head, provides a release from subculture frustration.

By succeeding the norms and values they created the young working class males gain respect from their peers, which in turn encourages this criminal behaviour. Among certain peer groups the committing of some types of crime such as joy riding and vandalism helps to gain respect and to increase their status within their social group (Smith . D, n. d) The current criminal justice system is based almost completely on the posivitist and classicist theories, these make little or no allowance for why women commit crime.

If there is no understanding of this, how can there be an accurate solution? People should look at a gender specific approach to the criminal justice system (Sentencing project, n. d). Feminist criminology is mostly concerned with the victimisation of women, along with victimisation; feminists also look at female delinquency, and inequality between genders within both the law and the criminal justice system (hermida. J, n. d)

Feminist’s theory is split into four main areas: -Liberal Feminism -Marxist Feminism Radical Feminism -Socialist Feminism Liberal feminism came about in the 1960’s; there main issue is that women are discriminated against because of their sex. The two most well-known of liberal feminist theorists are Freda Alder and Rita Simon (hermida. J, n. d) Both Alder and Simon challenge the “sexist” assertions made by Lombrosian criminologists. They believe that it is sociological factors and not physiological factors that are the best way to explain why women commit crime in today’s society.

They also believe that the more women become involved in and have full time jobs the more likely they are to commit crime that are seen to be male orientated, but this lack support as most crimes committed by women are not related to labour market opportunities (hermida. J, n. d). Marxist feminist theory generally agrees with liberal feminists is that women are often dominated by men which prevent them from fully participating in society.

They believe that rape is made more common in our society because of how women are dominated by men, they believe that society has made it more acceptable in our society (hermida. J, n. d). Radical feminism focus mainly on the abuse of women, the see male power as the cause of all problems in society including crime (hermida. J, n. d). Socialist feminists’ most well-known theorists are Piers Beirre and James Masserschmidt. It comes from both Marxist and radical feminism; they see crime as a product of our capitalism society (hermida. J, n. d) Conclusion

Since the 1700’s when people began to want change within the criminal justice system and the penal system, criminology has had a big effect on the changes made within the criminal justice system. Initially the new criminal justice system was just based on the classicist point of view and when there was no change in the crime rates, it was changed again to include both the classicist, positivist and subculture theories. There are still changes that need to be made as there is no consideration made for feminism and why women are committing more crime in today’s society than ever before.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 25 December 2016

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