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Classical School, Deterrence and Positivism

What is the philosophy of the Classical School in criminology? How does this philosophy affect current policy?

How do researchers study deterrence today? Is it effective?

What factors contributed to the intellectual heritage of positivism? Are these factors still relevant today? Why?

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Let me take this one question at a time:

1. The Classical Approach
This is occasionally called the 'utilitarian' school in criminology. It is not too far from the capitalist idea in economics. It stresses that the human person is about their own personal interest. The simple way to see it is that:

a) all people desire their good, freedom, money, reputation, etc.
b) if you want to stop a behavior, make sure that these goods are taken away as punishment. Finally,
c) the behavior will cease, primarily because people will decide that it is not in their interest to commit the act.
(The simple notion is that people respond to costs and benefits. Make crime cost a lot, then it will go down).

This one is really easy. Think of it in economic terms and you'll be OK.

2. Deterrence:
Take a look here:
The basic classical approach works here too.

Some basic areas of research:
The punishments must be carried out (that is, the potential criminal must know that he's in for it if he does the wrong thing). What is the relation between 'certainty' and crime rates?

Retribution or correction? (The classical approach stresses both as the same thing, since taking one's freedom or money away will eventually lead to the rehabilitated criminal).

Rational choice - people will not do anything outside of their interests or comfort zone.

Punishment should be moral - it should try to make better people, not just scared people.

Conflict theory - the powerful use of criminal law to keep the poor in subjection.

Society as 'cleansing itself' - that is, punishment as social sanction and moral condemnation.

This usually holds that human beings are rational actors, that is, they will only be criminals if they think that 'crime pays.' A moral approach might stress that irrationality rules immoral people - they don't know what's in their own interest.

Do prisons work? Do they create even worse criminals by their association with other ...

Solution Summary

The philosophy of the classical school in criminology are examined. The factors that might contribute to the intellectual heritage of positivism is determined.