Crime has increased at a constant rate over many years. To reduce and intervene with the constant rate of increase in crime, it is important to know the difference between crime, criminality, and criminal justice. Behind each crime, it’s possible to apply scientific studies to help identify factors of why crimes were committed in the first place, as well as understand the psychological aspect of it. When a crime is committed, it goes much deeper than just an act of breaking the law. When studying crime, we can reveal a lot about the motives or foundation of comprehending all aspects. Some favor Neoclassical School of Criminology approaches, while others favor the Classical School of Criminology approach. Each entails a different approach of how crime is viewed and should be handled.
Defined terms of Criminology
There are a few terms used in the Criminal Justice System that have meaning in various ways but exploring what the terms themselves mean can elaborate a great deal and bring insight to matters regarding Criminal Justice. A few terms to be exploring are; age of enlightenment, crime, criminal justice, deterrence theory, criminality, and the “stand your ground” law. The age of enlightenment was a time in history that established people’s rights within society, while crime in its most simple form is the breaking of laws created for people within society, leading to criminal justice being various constructs put in place to ensure the handling and observations of crimes themselves, and concluding the term deterrence theory representing the notion that individuals make rational choices when considering their behavior (Schram, Tibbetts, 2014). As for criminality it is the separation of an individual’s personal trait and their crimes, while the “stand your ground” law is an instance in which an individual or victim can use excessive force to protect themselves legally against an attacker or offender (Siegel, 2016).
Classical and Neoclassical Schools of Criminology
The Classical School of Criminology refers to the principle of rationality, where one takes into consideration the measure of positive and negative aspects of consequence that may occur when concluding whether to carry out their behavior of committing a crime (Schram, Tibbetts, 2014). Classical criminology came out of the Age of Enlightenment. Its belief is that people can follow through with criminal acts, seeking only interest that will benefit themselves, even if that means engaging in criminal behavior. This school contends people do have motivations, and that punishment deters people from violating the laws in place. The Classical School of Criminology upholds the idea of punishment being constant, rather than mitigating circumstances.
On the other hand, the Neoclassical School of Criminology expects provoking and diminishing aspects to be considered when determining a proper sentence or punishment to charge the offender with (Schram, Tibbetts, 2014). In this aspect, Neoclassical School of Criminology does accept mitigating circumstances, as they push for tentative sentences such as substitutions of incapacitation. The Neoclassical School regards that people would caution from committing crimes if there was certainty in being captures, rather than looking at the seriousness of punishment.
Victimization and Punishment
Within Criminal Justice there are those who are victims, and then there are offenders who are punished for their actions against their victims. There are a few theories for victimization, some of which are; victim participation, lifestyle, deviant place, and routine activities. Victim participation theory is the premises that a victim is the one who fuels or agitates another person who because of the incident later becomes their offender or attacker, where lifestyle theory of victimization is different from fueling a dangerous situation and is instead when a person becomes a victim due to their surrounding environment or life choices exposing them to others who participate in criminal acts or behaviors, adding the deviant place theory being not by the choice of a victim and is when they are subjected to certain places with criminal on goings or violence (like living or working in a high crime area for example), and lastly routine activities theory of victimization is a sort of consensus that establishes a connection between three aspects that lead to greater rates in crime- lack of guardians or positive figures, motivated offenders, and available targets for victimizing- stating that without proper figures of authority or guidance that offenders are more likely to create victims through criminal actions (Siegel, 2016). When offenders are caught in their criminal actions or choices, there are three key concepts of punishment that could or can be utilized for their crimes; swiftness of punishment, severity of punishment, certainty of punishment. The swiftness of punishment is the hopes of quickly giving a punishment to an offender to make them think twice and think against committing criminal behaviors in the future, while the severity of punishment is the thought of the punishment creating the criminal act of an offender as not worth the effort due to the negative consequences outweighing their rewards or gratifications through their criminal behaviors, and lastly the certainty of punishment is to establish when a criminals commits a crime not matter when or what it is that being caught for their actions is imminent and consequences are unavoidable (Schram, Tibbetts, 2014).
Difference between deviance and criminality
The main difference between deviance and criminality is that deviance is what we see as being against social norms, whereas, criminality has additional characteristics, such as behaviors that break the laws, where criminality associate’s behavior of breaking laws resulting in crime (Siegel, 2016). Crime is the engagement of behavior that results in law breaking, and deviance is engagement in behavior that differs from the socially accepted norm. When engagement in deviant behavior results in law breaking, this behavior becomes identified as a crime. Punishment can be implemented when acts of crime are committed, where acts of deviance can only have punishments implemented when those acts imply laws being broken.
A way to migrate crime
When it comes to mitigating crime, using social control doesn’t seem to be a proper fit, as it doesn’t support positive and encouraging guidance around the policies in place to control crime. The Justice System would be a better choice to help mitigate crime, as it regulates, handles, and abides by legislation. To add, the Justice System has laws in place that provide an unbiased approach. If social control were to be put in place, feelings and opinions would get in the way to properly regulate. No matter what is said about social control in regards of providing fair justice, implicit bias exists in every human being, and would get in the way of properly carrying out consequences for crimes committed. Social control can’t support the need of proper and good answers when it comes to improving the overall conditions of crime, as more conductive and maintenance is needed in order to create that connection that individuals must make in order to understand consequences follow for their actions, to maintain the safety and well-being of others in the community. A legal organization with focus on individual’s rights, following in accordance to with the law to protect people, and organization appears to be a better fit, which is why the Justice System should be the primary component when reviewing the proper way to mitigate crime. The justice system has a standpoint that is in theory and application meant to be unbiased, determining the offender and the proper punishment and or treatment, while social control could potentially confuse who is the victim or offender, or believe that all are victims, or all are offenders and proper justice would be close to impossible. There could also be personal bias views held by those seeking social control that hinder the consensus of evidence and facts from presenting clarity on the matter or people in question. Without laws in place to regulate those who commit crimes and what should be done for victims, there could be much more hindrances or damage to people. Social Control does not have the same functioning capabilities that the Justice System has.
In brief, the learned importance of the justice system due to its breaking down, analyzing, and learning from aspects surrounding all individuals involved or affected by a crime. Without the justice system, new methods for better understanding the reasons behind why criminals act in such a way, how to help rehabilitate them and which method is best applicable, how to properly help victims, and what can be done to mitigate crime could be very difficult.
Schram, P. J., & Tibbetts, S. G. (2014). Introduction to criminology: Why do they do it? Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Siegel, L. (2016). Criminology: Theories, Patterns, and Typology (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.