Review of week 1

Review of week 1

What causes a person to commit a crime? Here, we will consider the views put forward by classicist criminologists. There are two key figures associated with classicist criminology Cesare Beccaria [17481794](who published a key work, On Crimes & Punishments, in 1764) Jeremy Bentham [17481832] Key ideas associated with him include the pleasure-pain principle and the belief that the role of government is to promote the greatest good to the greatest number: he applied both to the operations of the criminal justice system 2018 Peter Joyce

What underpinned the classicist approach to criminal justice reform? Classicist criminologists viewed crime as a major threat to the social contract. Classicist criminology reacted against the operations of the eighteenth century criminal justice system, especially its unpredictability. This meant that people committed crime because they thought they could get away with it. 2018 Peter Joyce

What were the key classicist views concerning crime? The main views of classicist criminologists as to why people committed crime included: Crime was an act undertaken by a rational human being who carefully weighed up the pros and cons of a criminal act before deciding whether to commit it or not. The focus of their concern was the reform of the criminal justice system to aid this rational thought process. 2018 Peter Joyce

Classicist ideas regarding the reform of the criminal justice system (CJS) The CJS should deliver a uniform and consistent response to crime and all should be equal before the law. Punishments should seek to deter the commission of crime rather than wreak vengeance on offenders hence they should not be unnecessarily severe (to ensure enforcement). Discretion by sentencers should be avoided. Punishment should fit the crime (not be tailored to the person who committed it).

2018 Peter Joyce Jeremy Bentham and criminal justice reform in Britain Bentham and those who supported his views inspired reforms in a number of areas affecting criminal justice policy. These embraced the penal code, policing and prisons. 2018 Peter Joyce The penal code

In eighteenth century Britain, most criminal offences carried the death penalty. A key piece of legislation relating to capital punishment was the so-called Black Act of 1723 (directed at poachers), which created over 50 capital offences. Classicists sought the reform of the penal code, and inspired the removal of the death penalty from a number of offences in the early nineteenth century most provisions of the Black Act being repealed in 1823. 2018 Peter Joyce Policing

The system of policing in late eighteenth century England and Wales was based upon the parish constable system. This was based on the voluntary principle and operated across small geographic areas. The industrial revolution and the growth of towns rendered this system obsolete crime and disorder were major problems. Classicists wished to reform the historical system of policing in order to deter the commission of crime. Their views paved the way for the creation of professional policing in the early years of the nineteenth century. 2018 Peter Joyce Prison reform

Benthams major contribution to prison reform was to suggest their positive role in deterring criminal behaviour. Bentham put forward a blueprint for a prison design that would secure this end called the Panopticon (1791). Based on the pleasure-pain principle, he viewed prisons as machines to grind rogues honest. Surveillance within prisons was a key way to transform the behaviour of criminals. 2018 Peter Joyce Problems with classicist criminology

Their ideas were based upon philosophical speculation rather than scientific fact. They over-emphasised the importance of rationality governing criminal behaviour. Equality before the law did not mean equal access to it. The importance of discretion was undervalued in their thinking. 2018 Peter Joyce The vitality of classicist criminology Despite its weaknesses, classicist criminology has exerted an influence over contemporary

responses to crime (especially those associated with administrative criminology) Rationality was a key aspect of new right criminology (and conservative responses to crime in general). Surveillance is a key aspect of contemporary crime prevention policies. 2018 Peter Joyce References / further reading Beccaria, C. (1764) Dei deliti e delle pene (On Crimes and Punishments), trans. H. Paolucci

(1963). Joyce, P. (2017) Criminal Justice: An Introduction, 3 ed. London: Routledge. Walklate, S. (2014) Criminology: The Basics, 2 ed. London: Routledge. Williams, K. (2012) Textbook on Criminology, 7 ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2018 Peter Joyce

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