After a century of criminological theory, why does crime still exist

1815 Words Sep 27th, 2013 8 Pages
Introduction:
After more than a century of criminological theory, a central question remains: why does crime still exist? To answer this question one must first come to a clear definition as to what crime actually means. In essence crime can be considered a social concept; a specific word attributes an individual to a particularly undesirable group. This allocations is based upon an event; some sort of wrong-doing or deviance from the norm which results in social, physical, mental, property or financial harm. The fact is, there is no singular definition to crime- there are multiple views and opinions yet none stands as a concrete definition. From a formally legal perspective, crime can be defined as by the state; that is if a specific
…show more content…
As such punishment should fit the crime but still outweigh the attraction of individual(s) to commit that crime [Beccaria (1764) and Bentham (1970)].
The Persistence of crime: To answer the question as to why classical theory has failed to rid society of crime we must further examine the work of Jeremy Bentham. According to Bentham (1970) “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters; pain and pleasure. Bentham outlines how all human behaviour can be linked to a self-interested pursuit of pleasure and aversion of pain. Thus according to this crime can be considered as behaviours seeking to satisfy some underlying universal desires. In that sense people can be seen as rational when they commit crimes and when they do not. Furthermore it implies that people act first in the interest of the self and are free to choose a course of action, be it legal or illegal. Thus classical theory hasn’t failed to rid society of crime because it never attempted to do so; the theory merely accepts the fact that crime will co-exist alongside free-will and as such classicism seeks to minimise it. According to Blumstein, Cohen, and Nagin (1978) a review of seminal studies conducted from 1960-1970 depicted that certainty of punishment and severity of punishment correlated highly with lower levels of crime. Furthermore Shepherd (2002) demonstrated that
Open Document