2 Student Responses – CRMJ

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Good Evening class. In this weeks topic the Positivist vs Classical school of Criminology we discuss the difference between each some pro’s and con’s that i can see between them.

In its very basic form Classical is having the punishment fit the crime to me this means that for every crime that is criminal there should be a set punishment. some examples are Petty Theft will land you in jail and most likely you will be trespassed from the company or the individual site in which the crime occurred. Where as crimes that are more aggressive and lethal such as murder would land you in a federal prison and most likely you will end up on death row waiting to be put to death (kind of like the old eye for an eye). This Theory was invented in the 18th century this system had all members of the social order given equal rights Burke under the law. Beccaria even demonstrated the main significance of humanizing law and order to make it feel more righteous. This also fell into line with utilitarianism in which the founders believed that the greatest good for the greatest number of people would be right. Therefore laws should be made with the intent to please the majority.

Positivist from what I have read is having a punishment fit the criminal. This outlook goes into the sociological, psychological, and biological backgrounds to see what factors cause this type of criminal behavior. The people who back this theory believe that there are two different types of behavior one in criminals and one in non criminals this is rooted in their heritable makeup. Lombroso one of the founders of this school believes that criminals are born and not “made”. This came from him finding similar traits while dissecting criminals.

After reviewing these two schools I side more with the classical side than the positivist side of the house. Having a punishment set for types of crimes is in itself a deterrent for people to not want to commit crimes and then making sure that these punishments are fair and fitting of the crime makes it just in my opinion. The view point of the Positivist side where it is believed that people can be born into criminals and they have no choice in the matter does not seem right with me as everyone makes choices at the end of the day weather they be good or bad. The human factor plays allot into this because yes maybe someone with a mental illness commits a crime and they find that he doesn’t understand what he did to a certain extent but everyone is held equal under the law.

Racial profiling to me is not a way to get justification to stop someone to try and find probable cause that a crime may o rmay not have been committed. this type of policing always tends to lead down a slippery slope that never ends well. I have never heard or seen of any way that an officer can justify using racial profiling as a means to find out if a crime has been committed.

The events of 9/11 as heinous as they were against the United States does not justify targeting a select ethnic background for different treatment by law enforcement be that at the local, state or federal level. Having middle eastern men going in public and stating that they will attack Americans should have you be suspicious when encountering these said people who appear and give off warning signs.

Personally when i was stationed over seas we had allot of middle eastern males and females who worked on our base and we never had any issues even when the Iran tension was rising during 2019. These people came to our base and did the job they were paid to do and did nothing suspicious or deviant trying to hurt us.

“The Difference between Classical and Positivist Understanding.” UKEssays.com, www.ukessays.com/essays/criminology/the-d

2 hours ago


Positivist is the practice that the punishment a criminal receives should fit according to the criminal. This would take into account the criminals biological, psychological, mental, bodily anomalies, and environmental characteristics that went into “making” them a criminal. I say “making”, because this is what Cesare Lombroso believed. That a person was either born a criminal, or occasional criminals. This class of criminal would commit their acts based upon needs and stress (Simon, 2006). So when assessing the type of punishment that the suspect would receive, not only would they look into preventative measures, but also rehabilitation.

Classical is the practice of letting the punishment fit the crime. Cesare Beccaria was an advocate for this theory and believed that the court system should narrow their focus to the crimes committed at that time to avoid dishing out a harsher punishment than necessary (Bruni & Porta, 2014). If I am understanding this correctly, he was concerned that if two men committed the same crime, but they were punished based on their personal characteristics, rather than the crime that was committed, then their punishments may not be the same. This could lead to the man with the lesser punishment to believe that he could commit that crime again since his penalty was not as high as the other man’s.

I am torn between the two and cannot fully side with one over the other. Positivist seems like it could lean towards the side of stereotyping individuals. While this may help with profiling, it could also end with too harsh a punishment for someone who committed a minor first offense, but just happen to fit all of the other categories for a “born criminal”. With classical, I have to agree with Beccaria that dishing out a lesser sentence to one person and a higher sentence to another could cause a problem. However, I do not necessarily believe that we should only focus on the current crime that was committed. If it appears that the criminal is not repenting from their previous punishments, or if they are escalating, then that needs to be taken into account as well.

I would not argue that racial profiling is justifiable. I think there is a lot more that goes into criminal profiling than ethnicity alone. When police officers focus on race when they are seeking out suspects it leads to rough feelings and mistrust on both sides. If officers were focusing on people with only a certain race, not only could that particular target of theirs be innocent, but they could very likely be letting a true criminal slip from their grasp because they were not looking at the bigger picture. So while I do think that race could be a small piece of the puzzle when sorting through information, I do not think it should be a relying factor. When we consider 9/11, I can fully understand how considering race for these types of scenarios can be of more importance, but all it would take to get around that is for them to recruit someone of a different ethnicity to their cause. So again, relevant, but not full proof and I do not think it should be wholly relied upon, just a part of the picture when criminal profiling.


Simon, J. (2006). Positively punitive: How the inventor of scientific criminology who died at the beginning of the twentieth century continues to haunt american crime control at the beginning of the twenty-first. Texas Law Review, 84(7), 2135-2172. Retrieved from https://search-proquest- com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/203691880?accountid=8289

Bruni, L., & Porta, P. L. (2014). Cesare beccaria’s on crimes and punishments.History of Economics Review, (60), 64-74. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docv…

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