Criminology Essay

Criminology Essay

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Figuring out why people commit crimes is one of the central concerns of criminology. Do most criminals act rationally after weighing the costs of crime? Is society ever to blame for an individual to commit a crime? Do mental diseases or even genetics factor into whether a person will live a life of crime. Over the years, many people have developed theories to try to answer these questions. In fact, the number of theories of why people commit crimes sometimes seems to equal the number of criminologists. I explore these questions and much more in the paper that follow.
The foundation of classical criminology is its central belief that individual criminals engage in a process of rational decision making in choosing how to commit crime (Williams & McShane, 2010). This view is based on two further assumptions: that individuals have free will; and that individuals are guided by hedonism, the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. These ideas were important in that they shifted attention towards punishing people’s offending behavior rather than punishing the individual’s social or physical characteristics in and of themselves. This shift consequently had an enormous influence on changing attitudes towards punishment and towards the purpose of the law and the legal system.
Classical ideas about crime and punishment can be found in the works of a number of different writers. The writings of Cesare Beccaria (1738–94) and Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), however, were especially influential. According to the emerging view of the social contract, humans originally lived in a state of nature, grace, or innocence and their escape from this state resulted from the application of reason. It was argued that there was an in...

... middle of paper ...

...e extent to which this is a legitimate evidence-based concern is a moot point.
It is hard for anyone to grasp the concept or be able to understand why people commit heinous crimes or engage in criminal activities. We as human beings are all capable of committing or engaging in delinquent behavior. What stands in the way of a person that makes them decided to engage in deviant behavior or to choose not to commit crimes at all? We may never truly know or understand the real reasons behind why certain people make decisions like these every day. Early philosophers and scientists looked carefully and dug deep into the criminal justice system and the behavior of criminals using theories to explain criminal behavior. With these views they were able to come up with multiple distinctive theories that explained different views on why people decided to commit crimes.

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