Sample Essay on Beliefs of the Classical School of Criminology

Crime prevention in relation to the views of the classical school of criminology

According to the beliefs of the classical school of criminology, people have free will and that they make decisions whether or not to commit crimes. Classical theory contends that wrongdoing is a result of natural forces and forces of this world, like the lack of effective penalties. Classical theory was introduced in response to the severe, fraudulent, and often arbitrary nature of the justice system in the past (Bernard, 2010). The best way to deterwrongdoing, therefore, is through penalties that are rapid, firm, and suitably severe. Deterrence theorists mainly emphasis on the effect of official penalties on criminal acts. Deterrence results when an individual avoids wrongdoings because he or she fears the inevitability, rapidness and severity of formal legal penalty(Bernard, 2010).

According to the classical school of criminology,penaltycan be utilized to prevent crime and the harshness of the punishment should be proportional to the offense itself. In the past many wrongdoers were being given penalties that outweighed the nature of the offense. For example, in the past a common thief would have his/her fingers or hand chopped off for stealing. This kind of penalty outweighed the severity of the offense (Roufa, 2011). This could be seen particularly if the item taken was minimal when compared to the usefulness of the lost hand or fingers. Classical school emphasizes on fairness as well as better utilization of the justice system so as to minimize and prevent criminal acts (Classical, 2012).

Key Elementsof the classical school of criminal acts causation;

Crime causation concepts can vary significantly. Some individuals believe that intensepoverty is the root of misconduct. While according to others misconduct is mainly as a result of negative reactions to general character of human beings. A number of theories puts forward that substance abuse as well as mental health issues are greatly responsible for wrongdoings.Poverty concentration is one component ofcrime causation. Individuals who agree with this notion tend to believe that crime is as a result of deteriorating communities. The wealth and educated individuals tend to neglect and avoid areas where a majority of the people are poor and less educated. This leads to a concentration of individuals with minimal resources and life skills. The environments in such people live as well as the influences to which they are often exposed areassumed to steer most of them towards criminal acts(Bernard, 2010).

Whilst some individuals suggest many other complicated theories for crime causation, others considerthat misconduct is easily elucidated by human characteristics. Most individuals, at some point in life, experience yearning, wariness, and anger and most people consider dealing with these human characteristics in a legal way. Some criminologists believe that offenderslet their actions to be directed by these state of mind.Misconductis also generallylinkedto poor or abnormal rearing. It is supposed that children who are mistreated, exposed to violence, or raised by sociopaths are expected to become lawbreakers than other children. Other negative youthful experiences may also have this impact. The assumption made about this theory also isthat these effects are passed from one generation to generation.Offensive deeds are often associated with substance abuse, which is a problematic issue that is experienced around the world(Bernard, 2010).  The need to support their cravings drives many substance abusers to commit crimes. Lack of control after consuming intoxicating substances normally results in violent criminal acts.

Specific and General deterrence in relation to the existence of penalty and the challenges to ensure deterrence in the society today

There is a relationship between the probability of criminal offensesand the factors of Certainty, Severity and Swiftness of the consequence.Wherethere is deterrence it is normally the certainty and not the harshness of the penalty that seems to influence individuals (Classical, 2012). According to Specific deterrence,penaltyminimizes the crime of the specific individuals who are punished. Thus, punishing an individual for a criminal offense should minimize the probability of future crimes by the particular individual. Studies on general deterrence focus of finding out whether penalties prevents wrongdoing among individuals in the general population. Specific and general deterrence should be consideredcollaboratively and not independent. Imprisonment is limited as a deterrence and the preferred solution is to utilizeother measures, likeprovisional sentencing, and to try to return the lawbreaker to the community(Homel, 2012).

Increasing risks and decreasing rewardsin relation to conventional offenses and the rational choice theory.

The rational-choice theoryinvolves theconception that before individuals commit crimes, they rationally reflect on the risks and rewards. For instance, a robbernoticinglights off and absence of a security office at an expensive mansion over a number of nights mightrationally assume that the risk is minimal and the possible rewards are worth taking the risk and,consequently, may commit the crime. In accordance with the rational-choice model, concentrating on the development of rational thought and the utilization of scientific laws, in addition tothe utilization of empiricalresearch, might assist the state in developing policies that can effectively control criminal acts and deviance andthusmend quality of life(Piliavin et al, 1986). The notion, that criminals exercise free will and rationally evaluate the consequences of their conduct, matches the conservative thought and the “get tough” perspective to lawbreaking. If felony is as a resultof free will and not predetermined by social situations, thecriminal may best be discouraged by the threat of penaltyother than the promise of treatment. Mob members take part in drug business with the clear intention of making a profit byoutsmarting both their competitors and law enforcersmay be described as utilizing the ratio-choice theory.


Bernard, T. J. (2010). Vold’s theoretical criminology (p. 179189). New York: Oxford University Press.

Classical School of Criminology. (2012). Retrieved from:

Homel, R. (2012). Policing and punishing the drinking driver: a study of general and specific deterrence. Springer Science & Business Media.

Piliavin, I., Gartner, R., Thornton, C., &Matsueda, R. L. (1986). Crime, deterrence, and rational choice. American Sociological Review, 101-119.

Roufa, T. (2011). Criminology:What is it? Learn about the study of crime, its causes, and its consequences. Retrieved from