The Classical School Of Criminology Essay

The Classical School Of Criminology Essay

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In this essay I will discuss the main concepts and limitations of Classicism. Criminology and classicism begin to emerge at the time on the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. Before this time, socities throughout Europe provided harsh punishments to law breakers. Enlightenment thinkers disapproved strongly of injustice.
A concept of classicism is that criminals choose to commit crime. Individuals have free will: and are guided by hedonism, which means individuals want the maximisation of pleasure and the minimisation of pain. These ideas changed the focus to punishing offender’s behaviour rather then the offender’s social or physical characteristics (Walklate, S. 2007).

Another concept proportionality, refers to the punishment needing to fit the crime. The punishment should be in proportion to the harm caused by the crime. The aim of punishment is to stop the criminal from doing further injury to society and to stop others from similar crimes. The classical school of criminology led the development of penal codes and systems of procedure during the 19th century. It was inspired by a humanitarian outlook, which objected to the cruelty with which criminals were treated (Haynes, F. 1935). Classicists rejected the idea that sentences should be made to fit individual offenders. Offenders who committed the same crime could expect the same punishment (Bradley, T & Walters, R. 2011).

Classicists were involved with the rights of citizens and the need for their rights to be protected from state abuse. This neccessitated a rational justification for the states right to punish (Bradley, T & Walters, R. 2011). Ceasare Beccaria is considered the founder of the classical school of criminology. He argued that there was a contractual re...


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People commit crimes because people act rationally, and when the advantage to breaking the laws outweigh the punishment then they are likely to break those laws (Crutchfield, R. D., & Kubrin, C. 2001).
Not everyone is capable of thinking rationally. There may be medical factors stopping people from being able to think or behave rationally. If someone has a mental illness or a physical defect it may affect how they act or think.
The key concepts of Classicism such as free will, proportionality, contractual relationship, the Panopticon, and the deterrent effect were not without limitations. These limitations include inequalities between people and in classes.
Justice, law and order remain topics of high interest to our society and are always major issues, especially around election time. To date no-one has come up with a solution to these limitations.










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