After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
Define criminological theory.
State the causes of crime according to classical and neoclassical criminologists.
Describe the biological theories of crime causation and their policy implications.
Describe the different psychological theories of crime causation and their policy implications.
Explain sociological theories of crime causation and their policy implications.
Distinguish major differences among classical, positivist, and critical theories of crime causation.
Describe how critical theorists would explain the causes of crime.
Introduction to Criminological Theory
Several theories attempt to explain criminal behavior.
Some theories assume:
Crime is part of _____________________________________.
Crime is based on biological, psychological, sociological, and/or economic aspects.
A theory is an assumption that attempts to explain why or how things are related to each other.
A theory of crime attempts to explain why or how a certain thing is related to _____________________________________.
Most of what is done in criminal justice is based on criminological theory.
Failure to understand these theories leads to:
_____________________________________ that may undermine the success of criminal justice policies.
Intrusion on people’s lives without good reason.
Defining Criminological Theory
The explanation of criminal behavior
The _____________________________________ of:
Other actors in the criminal justice system
Classical and Neoclassical Approaches to Explaining Crime
The causes of _____________________________________ have been the subject of much speculation, theorizing, research, and debate.
_____________________________________about the causes of crime are based on:
One of the earliest secular approaches to explaining the causes of crime was _____________________________________.
Is based on the assumption that people exercise free will and are thus completely responsible for their actions.
Criminal behavior is motivated by a hedonistic rationality, in which actors weigh the potential pleasure of an action against the possible pain associated with it.
In 1764, criminologist _____________________________________wrote An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, which set forth most of classical criminological theory.
He argued that the only justified rationale for laws and punishments was the principle of utility.
_____________________________________: The principle that a policy should provide “the greatest happiness shared by the greatest number.”
Beccaria believed the basis of society, as well as the origin of punishments and the right to punish, is the _____________________________________.
_____________________________________: An imaginary agreement to sacrifice the minimum amount of liberty to prevent anarchy and chaos.
The only legitimate purpose of punishment is _____________________________________and _____________________________________.
_____________________________________: The prevention of individuals from committing crime again by punishing them.
_____________________________________: The prevention of people in general or society at large from engaging in crime by punishing specific individuals and making examples of them.
_____________________________________ also believed the best way to prevent or deter crime was to:
Enact laws that are clear, simple, and unbiased, and that reflect the consensus of the population.
Educate the public.