Classical Criminology Essay

365 Words2 Pages
Classical criminology grew out of a reaction against the barbaric system of law, justice and punishment that was in existence before 1789. It sought an emphasis on free will and human rationality. The Classical School was not interested in studying criminals, but rather law-making and legal processing. Crime, they believed, was activity engaged in out of total free will and that individuals weighed the consequences of their actions. Punishment is made in order to deter people from committing crime and it should be greater than the pleasure of criminal gains. Classical theory emphasized a legal definition of crime rather than what defined criminal behavior. The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution reflect the Classical movement, thus the law of today is classical in nature. Around the time that Beccaria was writing "On Crimes and Punishments", the United States was coming together as a nation. Our founding fathers were greatly influenced by Beccaria, Bentham and other classical criminologist. In our Constitution and Bill of Rights, many of the rights that we, as U.S. citizens, accept as fundamental come from the works of classical criminology. Some of our rights include: rules against vagueness, right to public trial, right to be judged by peers, right to dismiss certain jurors, right against unusual punishments, right to speedy trial, right to examine witnesses, coerced or tortured confessions are considered invalid, right to be informed of accused acts and the right to bear arms. Our Constitution was greatly influenced by Beccaria, and many of the rights that he advocated were made the foundation of the United States. In 1764, the unknown Cesare Beccaria wrote one short treatise called "On Crimes and Punishments" and the world is still using it to guide criminal justice. That short essay greatly impacted the United States’ Constitution, Bill of
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