The Classical School Of Criminology Essay

The Classical School Of Criminology Essay

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The Classical School of Criminology generally refers to the work of social contract and utilitarian philosophers Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham during the enlightenment in the 18th century. The contributions of these philosophers regarding punishment still influence modern corrections today. The Classical School of Criminology advocated for better methods of punishment and the reform of criminal behaviour. The belief was that for a criminal justice system to be effective, punishment must be certain, swift and in proportion to the crime committed. The focus was on the crime itself and not the individual criminal (Cullen & Wilcox, 2010). This essay will look at the key principles of the Classical School of Criminology, in particular the contributions made by Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham, followed by the impact and influence their work has had on modern day punishment and corrections.
The Classical School of Criminology advocated for a move away from the previous barbaric, and torturous punishments where authorities were permitted to use excessive force, depriving offenders of their freedom and rights, as well as their lives, with no regard for the principles of the due process of law (Monachesi, 1955). It also advocated for the abolition of the death penalty. Discretion used by judges was unlimited, which saw extremely inconsistent and harsh penalties applied to offenders, with disadvantaged offenders being given much harsher penalties than those offenders with a higher social status (Monachesi, 1955). The Classical School of Criminology worked off four main principles: firstly, that individuals act according to their rationality and their own free will, secondly, individuals will weigh up the benefits of committ...


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...ll commit a crime or not and that they make this decision based on the pleasure to pain ratio, along with deterrence theory are still common theories used in the criminal justice system today.
The contributions from both Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham had a profound impact on the criminal justice system today by moving away from torturous, inhumane punishment concentrated on the offender to a more humane, fair system where the offenders are treated more humanely and equally, with the opportunity of reforming criminal behaviour. Theories from both Beccaria and Bentham have been significant in advocating for penal reform over the last two centuries (Jenkins, 1984), in addition to the initial suggestion to governments that a positive outcome for society could be obtained by legal and penal reforms which could contribute to a solution for crime (Jenkins, 1984).

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