Classical Criminology

HideShow resource information


  • The law should gurantee the rights of the accused at all stages.
  • 'It is better to prevent crimes then to punish them'
  • Punishemnt is only justifed to the extent that the offender had infringed the tights of others or for the public good.
  • The seriousness of the crime should be judge on not by the intentions of the offender but the harm to soicety.
  • Penalities should be proportionate to the crime committed, and no more what is necessary to deter bith the offender and others from committing crimes.
  • Excessive punishment does not work, does not deter but also increases crime.
  • Law should clrealy state what is forbidden, and what the punishment is for each crime.
  • Punishment should be given fast, as this associates people's minds between crime and penality.
  • The punishment should be free of corruption and prejudice.
  • Criminals owe a debt to society.
  • Punisments should be fixeed strictly in proportion to the seriousness of the crime.
  • Based on free will and hedonism.
  • All human behaviour is based on the pleasure pain principle.
  • The courts determine a perosns guilt.
1 of 5

Beccaria 3 Factors


  • The more likely you are to be punished for your actions, the less likely you are to engage in criminal behaviour.
  • The law must clearly be set out and must be consistently enforced.


  • The shorter time between the offence and the punishment according to Beccaria ‘ stronger and more lasing in the human mind is the association of these two ideas, crime and punishment, then insensibly to be considered, one as the cause, the other as the necessary inevitable effect’


  • The severity of the punishment must be significant enough to deter further misconduct, but no more significant enough to deter further misconduct.
2 of 5


  • ‘The greatest happiness of the greatest number’
  • Utilitarian.
  • People are rational creatures who will seek pleasure while avoiding pain.
  • Punishment must outweigh any pleasure gained from criminal behaviour.
  • On he other hand the law mustn’t be to harsh that reduced the greatest happiness.
  • The law should not regulate morality but only control acts that harm society that reduce the happiness of the majority.
  • Capital punishment isn’t necessary
  • He argued that on occasion torture may be used only if you have the right offender.
  • Social ction should be guided by the objective of ensuring the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
  • Punishments are negative, must be restricted to produce the desired outcome- unhappiness.
  • Operate on a scale to be proportionate to the crime, but it must be undertandable to the offender.
  • Bentham didnt like when punishment was 'unprofitable' because its evil outweighs the offence.
3 of 5

The impact of Classicism

  • Had a great impact on criminal justice system across Europe and America.
  • Punishments should be appropriate to the nature of the crime, became the foundations for the modern CJS.
  • Decline in capital punishment and torture.
  • Growth of prisons.
  • Rational Actor Model.
  • Due process and the rights of the accused came from Beccaria and Bentham.
  • Can be seen in crime as a deterrent.
4 of 5

Criticisms of Classical criminology.

  • Focuses on problems of fairness and equality.
  • Not all individuals are rational thinkers.
  • If it is based upon ideas of free will and rationality why is it always the poorest in society in the criminal justice system?
  • White and Haines
  • How can justice and Equality hold up in court with a particular defendant? Not all defendants in court act rationally and with free will.
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Criminology resources:

See all Criminology resources »See all Classical Criminology. resources »