The earliest theories that attempted to explain crime saw the cause as weakness and evil spirits within the person. Many times these theories were based on religious or moral beliefs, rather than empirical research. There are various modern day perspectives concerning crime causation such as: the classical perspective, the biological perspective, the psychological perspective, and the sociological perspective. The classical and neoclassical theories of crime, founded by Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham assume that crime is a rational free-will choice based on the pleasure–pain principle. The earliest biological theories of crime developed by Cesare Lombroso assumed that criminals were those individuals who failed to fully develop from their primitive origins and could be identified through physical features. The modern era biology based theories have been more likely based on biocriminology. The psychology based theories, such as Sigmund Freud’s, assume that criminal behavior is the expression of repressed feelings, personality maladjustment, or mental illness.
Sociological theories assume that crime is caused not by body, mind, or individual motivation, but by external societal factors that influence one’s behavior. In this perspective social groups and institutions create conditions that can underlie criminal behavior. The social disorganization theories view the cause of crime as resulting from an environment filled with poverty, unemployment, and inadequate housing. An early yet popular theory developed by Edwin Sutherland was known as differential association theory. This theory holds that crime is a learned behavior through contact with bad peer groups. The social control theories see decisions between conformity and deviance as shaped by an individual’s response to social expectations of those close to them. Robert Merton’s strain theory identified strain between societal goals and the means of achieving them as a source of criminal behavior. Individuals who cannot achieve the goals legitimately might turn to illegitimate means. Whereas strain theory is based