Principles of Classicist and Positivist Criminology Opposed to Each Other Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


Comparison of the Classical and Positivist Approaches

What is Criminology?

The Classical Approach

The Positivist Approach

The common ground between the classical and positivist schools

What is Criminology?

Criminology is a term which is used to describe the entire study of criminal behavior under which narrower aspects of factors, causes and consequences are also studied. The subject deals with and undertakes the personal and social factors that are associated with criminal behavior. It also sheds light on the impact that this kind of behavior has on the family life itself and how the victim affects himself as well as his family and those around him. There are mainly two broad classifications of crime which highlight the disciplines involved in the social sciences. The first one is the classicist approach and the other being the positivist approach to criminology. The positivist criminologists state that the criminal loses the conscience mind and fails to interpret his or her behavior which causes him to commit such an act (Jeffry, pg 24). The person basically has no control on the way he is thinking and hence does not even realize the kind of behavior he is involving himself in. This approach blames the internal and the external factors affecting the person which consequently shake the mental state of the person's mind. On the other hand, the classicist approaches to criminology argue that every person has full capacity to make their decisions and have a realization of what they are doing. According to them, no one loses their ability to think and that each criminal act that is committed is purely based on wrong decisions such as when the person is taken over my extreme rage or revenge (Samenow, pg 20-22).

In the modern world that we live in today, criminology takes up the attention of a lot of scholars and sociologists in order to get to the bottom of the factors that contribute to committing this act. Criminology has now developed into a separate field of study whereby the researchers aim to understand the root of the problem and work on the mentality and cognitive workings of the person committing the crime, There are various interpretations of criminal behavior and each sociologist and criminologist has a different perspective of looking at things and they advance upon their researches and experiments to understand the complete phenomenon of committing a criminal act. Some people are actually taking up criminology as their career and it has started being one of the prominent fields of study and professions like law, journalism, police, etc. alongside the defense mechanisms that operate in the society. The aspect from which an act is analyzed depends upon the act and circumstances that have occurred (Schmallager, 2006, Pg 120). To work under this field, the person needs to have proper specializations and qualifications to pursue this as a career. We shall now consider the two broad perspectives of criminology which are classicist and the positivist approaches and we shall highlight the areas where they differ in their viewpoint.

The Classical Approach:

The Classical View of Criminology arose in the Enlightenment Era in the 18th century and states that people tend to do what they want. If they indulge in a criminal act, they do it with their own choices and consent. There may be many reasons and factors attached to why a person may turn towards a criminal act but the fact remains that the person is aware of what he is doing and getting involved in (Downes and Rock, 2007). These theories that somehow justify why the person committed a crime just make the control theories difficult to implement and understand. The classical criminologists take a different approach to the intervention strategies in dealing with the intervention tactics with the criminals. The law enforcements generally have a very aggressive approach towards the criminal acts under this rubric. The more the enforcements are delayed, the harder it is to counter and fix the problem and take effective measures. In such cases of criminal acts, it is important to take some actions at that very instance to eliminate the possible future occurrences of the same act. The classical view of criminology is addressed in such a proactive way that it undertakes both legal as well as social aspects of the crime and constraints the behavior effectively. The classicist approach takes a punitive approach to take up a perspective that would consider speed, precision and certainty to deal with the criminal acts. The justice systems deploy the acts to stop these criminals and effectively eliminate the criminal acts. If we look at things from a historical point-of-view, the classical criminologists focus on crime prevention and its strategies more (McLaughlin, 2007).

It is important that all the forensic, scientific as well as the technical resources are aligned in pressurizing the classical approach. This perspective should be combined with the modern contexts and applied in a way that would undertake all the perspectives today. The classical psychologists basically follow the layout and doctrine of "psychological hedonism," which states that every individual is free to choose the way he or she wants to act. They also state that everyone has their own set of behavior which they follow and judging from this perspective, the perpetrator actually thinks about his actions and plans out what he has to do before actually going forth implementing the actions (Mc Laughlin and Munice, 2006). The person is fully aware of the moral, social and legal implications of their actions and keeps those sanctions in mind while committing a crime. The person may weigh out the advantages and drawbacks of a situation and then assess whether or not the act is credible enough. Like any normal human being, the criminal would have some calculations in his mind before he decides what he has to do. The basic thought that these criminals have is that of pleasure rather than focusing on the effects and consequences their acts will bring about. The main aim in the mind of a criminal is that of making the undesirable act as painful as they can although they are fully aware of the possible consequences attached to their behavior.

The main argument held by the Classicists is that people commit crimes for their own interests and for their own motives (Tierney, 2009). A person who commits a murder or a robbery, for instance, may have a self-interest in the act which he wishes to achieve. The classical criminologists suggest that if the punishments were exactly proportional to the number of crimes, the justice and legal system could be made very efficient. The criminals who commit such acts with the hope of getting away may rethink their actions and before harming anyone and violating the laws and social norms.

Under the classical approach, Cessare Beccaria, an English philosopher had made quite a lot of contributions. He states that back in the day, the punishments for crimes were much stricter than the actual intensity of the act itself. He suggests that this pattern has somewhat changed and he goes on to give ideas of some of the law enforcement ways in which the legal systems can be improved and criminal acts can be stopped. What he basically did was to introduce new theories and ways in which to implement punishments so that they are more effective. He said that the punishments should have a hierarchical structure whereby the criminals should be punished (White and Haines, 2008). What he basically meant by this hierarchical structure was that the level of punishment should vary with the intensity of the criminal act itself. This turned out to be quite successful in comparison to the previous laws where everyone was given the same punishment regardless of the act committed.

Under this approach of the classical criminologists, every criminal was given permission on the basis of the seriousness of his act. This was just the basic underlying concept of the classical criminologists. More clause and additions were made to this method later on and it proved to be quite successful and effective in maintaining order and peace (Morrison, 1997).

The concept of accountability and responsibility is something that is needed in almost every aspect of life. In the field of criminology, these two aspects are needed to weigh out the loss or gain out of a criminal act. The pleasure or gain from the act itself or the drawbacks of the punishment is what the criminal judges before going ahead with the act. The punishment according to the classicists is implemented for everyone; no one is exempted from it. In case of a punishment, the factors like age, mental state, economic power, social status, etc. are all left out and the punishment is implemented for the act that has been committed (McLaughlin, 2007). Every individual is accountable to what he or she is doing and this is one of the strategies in the implementation of the crime control methods that the individual's personal characteristics are not…

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