2. Theoretical background (2016)Apunte Inglés
Apunts de l'assignatura criminological language, de primer de criminologia a la UAB amb la professora Bettina Steible, de l'any 2016
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1º Criminologia UAB
UNIT 2: THEORETICAL
Useful tools to understand the functioning of the criminal justice system and its actors.
Macro theories: A theory can explain crime, but in a large social unit level.
Micro theories: Individual or smaller unit level.
In criminology we deal with probabilities.
3 frames of reference: Classicism Positivism Theories on the behavior of law and criminal justice 2.2: CLASSICISM Free will: Crime is a source of personal choice.
Historical background Pre-enlightenment world vs. era of rationality Pre-enlightenment world: No human rights, arbitrary punishment, unpredictable. Classicism emerged to stop with this arbitrariness of punishment.
Era of rationality: Thought that free will was everything, and that criminals exercise free will and rationality. If the benefits of a crime outline the punishment, they go on and commit crimes.
Shift from feudal to industrial society. Will to stablish a legal model that will ensure economic model to predictable.
Systems of punishment based on the ideas of revenge and retribution: Death penalty, banishment, physical punishment… 1 Criminological language 1º Criminologia UAB Classical thinking sought to limit the barbarity of the systems of justice Focus on the offence.
Fathers of classicism Cesare Beccaria (Italian) Certainty: how likely is punishment to occur.
Celerity: how quickly is punishment to occur.
Severity: how much pain is inflicted.
-The law should restrict individuals as little as possible.
-The accused must have rights, we must follow some aspects.
-Punishment also has limits, it Is just justified if the suspect has infringed the rights of other people or public order. The severity of criminal law must be proportional to the offence.
-The criminal law must especially say which behaviors are criminalized and which is the punishment.
-If the punishment is not enough or too much, it does not work. (certainty, celerity, severity) -Idea of the rational actor.
-Beccaria’s general theorem: “A punishment may not be an act of violence, of one or of many against a private member of society, it should be public, immediate and necessary; the least possible in the case given; proportionate to the crime, and determined by the laws”.
Jeremy Bentham (british) Pleasure/pain principle: human behavior is generally directed at maximizing pleasure and avoiding pain. We have to adapt the criminal justice system to this principle.
According to the pleasure/pain principle, the answer to the question of why would someone commit crime would be because it gives them pleasure. Therefore, we must make sure that the punishment will be greater than this punishment. We must impose limits on it.
Punisments themselves are essentially negative. They should: Be restricted so as only as to produce the desired outcome.
Operate on a scale so as to be proportionate to the crime.
Be understandable and predictable to the offender.
2 Criminological language 1º Criminologia UAB Critics: -Issues of fariness and equity: It overlooks the problems of incapacity of various forms (mental illness, learning difficulties and other forms of impairment, or matters of maturity). Not all defendants in court appear to be acting rationally and of free will.
-Problem of power: Why is it that the poorest tend to be those who predominate in the criminal justice system? Is rationally somehow related to wealth and power? -NB: Difference between parole and probation: Both describe the legal status of an offender who has been conditionally released.
Both probationers and parolees are subject to a list of conditions.
BUT… Probation: alternative to prision. Decided by a judge.
Parole: conditional release from prision. Decided by a parole board.
Impact Significant impact on criminological theory and on criminal justice practice.
Idea of appropriate punishment.
Offenders seen as rational actors.
Aspects of due process and the rights of the accused.
Modern approaches -Deterrence theory: Crime can be controlled though the use of punishments that combine the proper degrees of certainty, severity and celerity.
-Rationale choice theory: 80’s formulation of classical criminology. Economic dimension: people commit crimes because the immediate gains outweigh the potential long-term loss.
-Routine activity theory: Necessity of three elements: an available target, a motivated offender and a lack of guardians.
2.3: POSITIVISM Emerged later, under belief that free will was not enough, it was a myth. There are other factors that make humans behave on a certain way beyond free will.
Background Darwin: “The origins of species” and “The descent of man”. Theory based on natural selection. With Darwin we start to think that human behavior is determined by the process of evolution, and it is also determined by the process of evolution, and it is also determined by other factors such as biology or psychology.
3 Criminological language 1º Criminologia UAB Augustus Comte: Sociology Criminology: progress is achieved as a result of the dispassioned study of cause and effect, including in human conduct.
Definition Bottoms (2007) -We need to apply the scientific methods to human affairs, the social worlds.
-Epistemology is data derived from observation. We must rely on information that is observable, in order to have knowledge. We must use facts and collect them.
-Facts are not the same as values.
-Powerful preference for quantitative over qualitative data.
Early biological theories focused on physical attributes These theories were based on appearance and physical attributes.
Physiognomy: The face or countenance, especially when considered as an index to the character. It was considered that criminals had sharp vision and large lips.
Phrenology: Criminals could be also told appart by the size of their skull or their brain.
Fathers of positivism Cesare Lombroso -Throwbacks to a more primitive stage of human development – inborn criminals. According to this, criminals are born criminals, so they will offend.
-Classification of criminals: inborn criminals, “crazy” criminals (those who have a mental disease) or criminals that commit crime because of their environment (not inborn).
There’s been a ship from biological factors to environmental factors.
Enrico Ferri Refuses free will and says that psychology has proved that every act of an individual, a human being, is a result of an interaction between their personality and environment.
“It is not the criminal who wills: in order to be a criminal it is rather necessary that the individual should find himself permanently or transitorily in such personal, physical and moral conditions, and live in such environment, which become for him a chain of cause and effect, externally and internally, that disposes him towards crime”.
4 Criminological language 1º Criminologia UAB 3 humiliations of Freud We used to think that we (humans) were the center of everything. Later, we discovered that it was not true First humiliation.
The Second humiliation was to discover that we, humans, were not the perfect image of god, but that we are the result of an evolution.
Finally, the discovering that we are not even masters of our own fate, and that we are not able to control it was the Third humiliation.
To sum up, to discover that we are not what we thought we were.
Critics David Matza (1964) Determinism: Are we born with a fate that we cannot control or escape? Differentiation: Can we actually draw a line of categories, between people who offend and people who do not offend? Is it possible to identify criminals by their features? Pathology: Is this the case, that criminals have something wrong in their minds? Impact Biological theories Belief that crime is caused not so much by human choice but by inherited and uncontrollable biological straits.
Early theories: biological or genetic defect Modern theories: variations in genetic and other biological factors in interaction with the environment that made some people biologically inferior somehow commit crimes.
Society’s response: deterrence has nothing to do, according to these theories, because criminals do not choose it, if they are born with it, they will end up committing crimes anyways. Therefore, society has to find other ways to avoid crime, either put them in prison for good or, a more extreme measure, sterilize or castrate them.
Psychological theories - Psychoanalytic theory: Belief that the development of personality in early life influences behavior for the rest of a person’s life. There is a personality disorder, and because of that, they commit crime.
Freud: Conflict between the id, the ego and the superego.
5 Criminological language - 1º Criminologia UAB Personality theory: Instead of developing a conforming appropriate – social personality, the criminal has developed a personality based upon conflict, impulsiveness and aggression. These individuals do not even have the possibility of feeling empathy, so they will commit crime.
- Cognitive theory: Criminal behavior takes place in two levels: mental level and information level. It is based on one’s ability to correctly process information about one’s behavior, and the way they solve problems.
Depending on the environment, they develop their moral. Then, there are the moral and information stages of development.
The social response to the psychological theories: they try to develop measures to treat and rehabilitate the offender.
Sociological theories Relation between social factors and crime (neighborhood, family, education, etc.) - Strain theory: people commit crime in response to strain, situations of stress or pressure such as: Inability to achieve one’s goals Loss of positive stimuli Presentation of negative stimuli - Social learning theory: Considers the formation of one’s identity to be a learned response to social stimuli. People engage in crime because of their association with others who engage in crime. Focus on the process of socialization. Will to satisfy other people’s expectations.
- Differential association theory: (Sutherland) Learning theory that concentrates on one’s associates and the normative definitions one learns from them. If there is an excess of definitions, people are more likely to commit crime. For example, in a neighborhood where there are high levels of crime, it is not because of the community or neighborhood, but because there are different groups with non-official norms that they’ll follow. Crime is learnt in close and intimate relationships.
- Social boarding and control theories: Why individuals conform to societal norms, and not why they commit crime? How people are controlled by society? Has the individual bonded with society, and if so, how strong are those bonds? If they are broken, individuals are more likely to commit crime. (Bonds = family, friends…) 6 Criminological language - 1º Criminologia UAB Social disorganization theory: (Shaw and McKay): Macro theory that looks across disorganization of a community.
Disorganized communities characterized by poverty, ethnic heterogeneity, residential mobility, weakened social stability.
Forces are at work beyond the individual delinquent: they may be found in the structure or organization of the city itself.
2.4: THEORIES OF THE BEHAVIOR OF CRIMINAL LAW Conflict theory The view that society is divided into two or more groups with competing ideas and values. The group with the most power makes the laws and controls society.
Labelling theory The theory that the formal and informal application of stigmatizing and deviant “labels” or tags applied to an individual by society will not deter, but rather instigate future deviant or criminal acts.