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Classical theory in criminology

He advocated a proposition that punishment should be swift, certain, and proportional to the crime. He also advocated the abolition of both corporal and capital punishment, a revolutionary idea in his time. His work was promoted by Bentham, particularly in his book An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Beccaria and Bentham believed that people committed crimes when they believed that the chance of rewards to them would be greater than the likelihood of punishment (Hollin, 2004, 2). It was the pain/pleasure view of human behavior: that humans sought to gain pleasure and avoid pain. These men believed that people acted on the principle of free will: they made a choice of what behaviors to indulge in and therefore should suffer the consequences if caught in criminal acts. The emphasis on human-centered rationality led these theorists to the position that perpetrators of crimes should be held personally responsible for their actions and punished according to the severity of the crime (Juvenile, 2005, 71). Under these circumstances, criminal law must match the needs of the individual to the needs of society as a whole, with neither wishing a crime to be committed (Hollin, 2004, 2). This is achieved by the society making the punishment for committing a crime harsh enough that no one will want to take the risk of engaging in criminal behavior and being caught.

Under these conditions, Bentham believed that p


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Classical theory in criminology. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:08, October 24, 2014, from
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