Criminology is defined as the scientific study of the nature, extent, cause and control of criminal behavior. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in the behavioral sciences most commonly drawing its research from the field of sociology but also psychology, economics, political science, natural science and criminal justice. (Siegel, 2008, p. 2) Criminal Justice is defined as agencies of social control such as the police departments, the courts, and correctional institutions that handle criminal offenders. (Siegel, 2008, p.
2) Our courts, law enforcement and correctional institutions work together under the rule of law for the main purpose of maintaining order in society. In this paper I will attempt to demonstrate how without the studies of Criminology, there would be no Criminal Justice, rule of law or order within our society. Criminal Justice and Criminology
For the period of 1200 – 1600, people that deviated from the norm or practiced alternative religious rituals were believed to have been possessed by demons or were believed to be witches. Their punishment for these violations was cruel and unusual including whipping, branding, maiming and execution (Siegel, 2008, p. 2). It was not until the period of 1738 – 1794 that an Italian scholar named Cesare Beccaria believed in a concept called utilitarianism; it fundamentally stated that in society a person has free will to choose criminal or lawful behavior to satisfy their needs or settle their problems.
Beccaria also believed that criminal behavior may be more attractive than lawful behavior because it may require less work and have a greater payoff. The only way to discourage a person’s choice of criminal behavior is to instill a fear of punishment (Siegel, 2008, p. 3). To deter society from unlawful behavior, forms of punishment must be sufficient and effective, prompt but necessary, fair and balanced as well as dictated by law, (Siegel, 2008, p. 2 – 3). Criminology believes to establish effective punishments and laws; one must understand why a crime is committed.
Criminologists believe social, political and economic factors are reasons behind why crimes are committed. Biological and psychological perspectives such as genetics and personality are internal forces why crimes may be committed. Ecological forces such as neighborhood conditions as well as socialization forces (peers, parents and teacher influence) are also a function of crime. Economic and political forces such as competition for limited resources and power also produce crime. By understanding the cause, effect and identifying possible deterrents, effective policies can be established to combat unlawful behavior. Criminal Justice and Criminology
Today’s Criminal Justice System creates policies and operates based on the theories and concepts established by Criminology. The Criminal Justice System depends on criminology to examine the sociology of law, the social response to crime and establish theories of crime causation (Maxim, 1998, p. 20). Our Criminal Justice system depends on Criminology to understand and explain why certain unlawful behavior is being committed. It also identifies fluctuation in crime rates and the changing characteristics of groups that do or do not violate specific criminal laws. Criminology aids the Criminal Justice system to adequately respond to trends in unlawful behavior by understanding the factors that contribute to these behaviors.
Law Enforcement can craft effective crime suppression tactics and better understand the characteristics of criminals based on the social factors explained by Criminology. With the theories and concepts of Criminology our Court Systems are able to write more effective laws and sentencing guidelines to deter society from unlawful behavior for fear of punishment. Our correctional department also depends on the studies and theories of Criminology to understand if current rehabilitation efforts are in line with today’s society.
Without Criminology punishments would not fit the crimes and the root cause and influences behind why society behaves unlawfully would never fully be understood. Clearly, Classical Criminology is applied to how we write laws and civil statues and remains vital to our Criminal Justice System. Without Criminology we would likely be ill prepared to deal with the criminal element of society. Criminal Justice and Criminology
References Criminology: The Core, 3 Edition, Larry J. Siegel; Cengage Learning, 2007 Explaining Crime; Maxim, Paul S.; Whitehead, Paul C.; Nettler, Gwynn, Boston Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998 What Works in Corrections; Doris Layton MacKenzie, Cambridge University Press, 2006