Criminology - Theories of Crime

Criminology - Theories of Crime

Theories of Crime

When discussing the cause of crime, there are two theories that are widely debated: Classical and Biological. Classical is the belief that all humans are rational and that crime is a result of the exercise of free will. While biological is more science based, stating that criminals do not have control over the choices that they make. Be it due to brain abnormalities, learned behaviors, or genetic inheritance.

The classical theory’s advocates believed that people had control of their lives, thus crime was a choice. Therefore, it was suggested by Cesare Beccaria, in 1964, that in order to prevent crime punishment should be swift and certain. He also believed that the punishment should fit the crime. Jeremy Betham, another advocate, concurred with Baccaria’s ideas on crime, but took the ensuing punishment a step further. So as the offender experienced great discomfort that outweighed the pleasure experienced during the committance of the crime. This line of thinking and the application of its principles influenced the U.S. Constitution as well as existing approaches to crime.

The biological theory advocates believe the criminal offenders are predisposed to their form of behavior, therefore not fully responsible for their actions. Many of the causes for this predisposition are medically related, from neurological disorders to blood deficiencies. While there are many more critics than advocates for this line of thinking, it does call for some consideration. Many examples have been cited where a medical condition, once discovered to have been the cause for an offender’s actions, was treated that offender no longer displayed the offending behavior. One such example is man named Jeffrey Burns. Burns suddenly began behaving as a sexual predator, after never having exhibited any such behavior in the past. When it was discovered that he had a tumor on the part of the brain responsible for social judgment and self-control, it was...

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