Compare and Contrast Biological, Biosocial, and Classical Theories of Crime

Compare and Contrast Biological, Biosocial, and Classical Theories of Crime
Lisa Moore
CJA 540
April 20, 2010
Dr. Timothy Emerick

        Compare and Contrast

The study of criminological theory is an opportunity to analyze and critique the way others have looked at crime through history. Today, the quest to understand crime is as close to us as the latest newspaper headlines and television reports. However, theory is not just a popular belief, opinion, or value-driven explanation. Instead, theory is a product of the scientific approach.
“Two writers of this period, Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) and Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), wrote the best-known works and they are considered to have had the most influence. In their writings, they opposed the arbitrary and capricious nature of the criminal justice systems of the time. Both Beccaria and Bentham, proposed that both the law and the administration of justice should be based on rationality and human rights, neither of which was then commonly applied” (Williams & McShane, 2004, p. 15).
How Do These Theories Differ
Classical Theory
The classical theory believes crime occurs when the benefits outweighs the costs, when individuals pursue self-interest in the absence of effective punishments. Crime is a free-willed choice. “This theory focuses mainly on the individual and choice. Each individual makes decisions based on cost and benefit. Using Classical Theory, human behavior is explained in terms of the attempt to maximize pleasure and minimize pain” (Williams & McShane, 2004, p.17) and because the basis for the concept of deterrence. The core principle of the classical school is the deterrence theory, which states a crime can be controlled through the use of punishments.
Political belief prior to this supported the idea that people served the needs of the government. The idea of a new social contract in which the government existed to serve the needs of the governed brought forth a...