14 Jul 2022


Early History of Criminal Theory

Format: APA

Academic level: High School

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 583

Pages: 2

Downloads: 0

Social philosophers started advocating for criminal punishments that were more rational around mid-eighteenth century. Prior to this, criminal punishments were characterized by cruel methods that scared people from disobedience. As a strong believer in utilitarianism, Cesare Beccaria explained that crime only occurs when people perceive that the pleasure and benefit of crime far outweigh the consequential punishment. As seen from his theory, punishment can only be effective if it is prompt, proportionate, public, necessary and directed by law (Siegal, 2010). 

The classical theory of criminology acknowledged several factors. First, it acknowledged that people have a free will in deciding whether to use lawful methods or criminal methods in solving their problems and meeting their daily needs (Barak, Gregg, Jeanne & Leighton, 2001). Secondly, the theory considers crime as more promising when it gives prospects of great benefit using little efforts. Furthermore, the classical theory considered the fact that fears associated with punishment can control crime. Besides, the theory explained that punishments that are more certain, swift and severe can be effective in controlling criminal behavior (Siegal, 2010). 

It’s time to jumpstart your paper!

Delegate your assignment to our experts and they will do the rest.

Get custom essay

The positivist theory came as a challenge to the classical theory in the nineteenth century by providing a new look into the causes of crime. Cesar Lombroso proposed the activist the positivist theory and argued that criminals are born with unique biological characteristics. According to him, criminals are biologically different from normal law-abiding citizens. He further modified the theory in the subsequent year and classified criminals into criminaloids and insane criminal groups. His theory holds that insane criminals are born as normal people but become criminals later because of the change associated with brain structure that harms their morality (Harcourt & Bernard, 2014). 

The positivist theory advocated for humane punishment methods to deter crime. The theory proposed isolating criminals from society in order to ensure that the society is safe and the criminals are safe as well. Moreover, the positivist theory proposed a rehabilitation method for those criminals that had acquired the habit later in their lives. It is known for greatly opposing the capital punishment (Siegal, 2010). 

In the contemporary multicultural and postmodern world of criminal justice, affirmative action, Marxism, and feminism greatly shape the course criminal justice and criminology in general. Differences in race class and gender continuously affect the course of criminal justice. The social system of inequality and privilege derived from race gender and class most often dictate the type of punishment and criminal control that one receives (Harcourt & Bernard, 2014). Privilege and inequality among different races, gender and class often affect the criminal justice experience that one receives. Regulation of social stratification in the contemporary society and creating equality for all gender and race will greatly improve the criminal justice systems (Barak, Gregg, Jeanne & Leighton, 2001). 

Racial profiling is unjustified at all costs. The claim that people of one race are more affiliated to crime compared to others races is a fallacy. An individual cannot be defined as criminal merely because of his race. Moreover, we cannot assume that members of a given race cannot be involved in criminal activities. The skin color of an individual is unrelated to the criminal records or moral status of that person. A successful criminal justice system should not consider the race of an individual in deciding where a person is guilty of a crime or not (Siegal, 2010). The events of 9/11 do not suggest a justification for other forms of ethnic profiling. Ideally, terrorists and criminals are aware of the changing tact in profiling; they will devise ways of evading justice. In the end, innocent people who are not criminals will suffer because of the profiling and such events cannot j ustify the concept of ethnic profiling in combating crime (Harcourt & Bernard, 2014). 


Barak, Gregg, Jeanne Flavin, and Paul Leighton. 2001.  Class, Race, Gender, and Crime: Social Realities of Justice in America . Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing. 

Harcourt, Bernard E. 2014. “Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique of the Economics, Civil Liberties, and Constitutional Literature, and of Criminal Profiling More Generally,” The University of Chicago Law Review 71: 1275—1381. 

Siegal, L.2010.  Criminology, The Core.  Lowell: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 

Cite this page

Select style:


StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Early History of Criminal Theory.


Related essays

We post free essay examples for college on a regular basis. Stay in the know!

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Research in Criminal Justice

Research is the primary tool for progressing knowledge in different fields criminal justice included. The results of studies are used by criminal justice learners, scholars, criminal justice professionals, and...

Words: 250

Pages: 1

Views: 165

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

The Art of Taking and Writing Notes in Law Enforcement

Every individual must seek adequate measures to facilitate input for appropriate output in daily engagements. For law enforcement officers, the work description involving investigations and reporting communicates the...

Words: 282

Pages: 1

Views: 183

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Justice System Issues: The Joseph Sledge Case

The Joseph Sledge case reveals the various issues in the justice system. The ethical issues portrayed in the trial include the prosecutor's misconduct. To begin with, the prosecution was involved in suppressing...

Words: 689

Pages: 2

Views: 252

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Victim Advocacy: Date Rape

General practice of law requires that for every action complained of there must be probable cause and cogent evidence to support the claim. Lack thereof forces the court to dismiss the case or acquit the accused. It...

Words: 1247

Pages: 4

Views: 76

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

New Rehabilitation and Evaluation

Introduction The rate of recidivism has been on the rise in the United States over the past two decades. Due to mass incarceration, the number of people in American prisons has been escalating. While people...

Words: 2137

Pages: 8

Views: 140

17 Sep 2023
Criminal Justice

Justification of Reflections and Recommendations

Credible understanding and application of criminal justice require adequacy of techniques in analyzing the crime scene, documenting the shooting scene, and analysis of ballistic evidence. The approaches used in...

Words: 351

Pages: 1

Views: 127


Running out of time?

Entrust your assignment to proficient writers and receive TOP-quality paper before the deadline is over.