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In Criminology there are
several different theories that have been created by many different people. The
three theories that will be covered in this paper are Classical, Social, and
Trait. The three theories will be breaking down by explaining the history, and
ideal that supports each theory. Each theory will also be compared to each
other and at the end they will be paired  with a type of sentencing model (Indeterminate
or Determinate) best suits that specific theory and why.

The Classical criminology
theory dates back to eighteenth century writings of Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy
Bentham (Akers, R, 2014). Both social philosophers were primarily concerned
with legal and penal reform rather than with formulating an explanation of
criminal behavior. In doing so they formulated a theory of crime that remains
relevant to criminology even today. During the eighteenth century the legal
system was marred by many issues in the judicial systems in Europe and
punishments were based on cruel punishments that ranged from whipping, to
public hanging, to mutilations. Due to reforms in the eighteenth century many
of these cruel and unusual punishments were disbanded and new ideas were
instituted such as the right to a speedy trial. Other ideals were instituted
during that same era such as a legislatively fixed scale of punishment for each
type and degree of crime.

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The Basic premise in the
classical criminology theory is that actions and decisions are made by a person
in the rational exercise of free will. An individual in society chooses to obey
or violate the law by a rational calculation of the risk of pain versus
potential pleasure derived from an act. When an individual contemplates a
criminal act, they consider the probable legal penalties and the likelihood
that they will be caught. If the individual believes that the penalty has a
greater pain than reward for the crime, then they will not commit the crime. If
they calculate that the crime has a greater reward to punishment ratio they
will more then likely commit the crime. Their calculations are based on their
own experiences with criminal punishments, their knowledge of what punishment
is imposed by law and their awareness of what punishment has been given to
arrest offenders in the past.

 In this theory the primary purpose of criminal
law is deterrence. It would not be used to avenge the wrong doings that have
been done to the state or victim. Judges would also do nothing more than
determine guilt or innocence and would not use any discretion to alter
penalties provided for by the law. To Bentham and Beccaria the punishment must
“fit the crime” meant that the punishments for the crime was proportional to
the harm caused to society and that the punishment must be tailored to be just
as severe to overcome the gain in committing the crime (Akers, R, 2012). In the
classical theory, the determinate sentencing method is required because it is
required to have a set punishment for the specific crime that creates
deterrence. If the indeterminate sentencing model was used, criminals would
either get less of a sentence or would just committing crimes based on a
calculation of chance of how harsh the punishment would really be.

The Trait Theory is a theory of
criminology that states that certain personality traits can predispose a person
to crime. Its roots stem from Michael Lombroso (Olson, 2013) which states
that criminals are throwbacks to a more priumanity, both physically and
mentally. Individual Trait Theory is based on a mix between biological
factors and environmental factors. Trait Theory suggests that people have
parameters that are set by our genetic code, and our experiences in life
determine how we act.

There are many different views on
what makes up a person’s personality, what traits a person has, and how to
categorize those traits. One of the pioneers of trait theory Gordon Allport,
recognized that there are 4000 personality traits in the dictionary, so he
split these up into three categories; Cardinal, Central and Secondary. Cardinal
traits are defined as traits that summarize a person entirely. Central traits
are words used to describe a person such as kind, funny, or loud. 
Secondary are defined as traits that only pertain to a person in certain
situations such as “Road Rage” (Sincero, 2012). 

In the Trait Theory, this
information can be very important factors for profiling criminals. One
example of this theory could be a serial killer that could have a cardinal trait
of narcissism, because they are always self-centered; a trait you cannot
change. They could have many central traits that include a lack of empathy or
the ability to manipulate because while they cannot be defined by these traits,
they can be described by them. Their secondary traits could be of charm or
intimidation, because these traits can be used to their advantage in certain
situations to manipulate (Kouri, 2009). In use of this example the
indeterminate sentencing model would be best suited for this theory. Based on
the theory that a person was born with a trait, suggests that a person would be
guilty for a crime before it is even committed. Indeterminate sentencing would
allow a judge or jury to see this and sentence the offender appropriately, and
may allow the court to see what type of help that offender really needs to
reintegrate back into society.

There are many different types
of social theories that are currently published today. Generally sociological
theories of criminology states that society creates conditions under which a
person commits a crime. In the social learning theory (Akers, 1998), individuals
learn to engage in crime in the same way they learn to engage in conforming
behavior: through association with or exposure to others. Primary or intimate
groups like the family and peer groups have an especially large impact on what
we learn. This theory suggests that association with delinquent friends is the
best predictor of delinquency other than prior delinquency (Cohen, 1955). Although
a person does not need to be in direct contact with others to learn from the;
for an example, a person can learn to engage in violence from observing others
committing these acts on the internet or on the media. Most of the social
learning theories involve a description of the three mechanisms by which a
person learns to engage in a crime from others: differential reinforcement,
beliefs, and modeling.

Individuals can teach others to
either engage or not to engage in crime through the reinforcements and
punishments they provide for behavior. Reinforcements can be positive or
negative. In positive reinforcement the behavior results in a positive
consequence (Cullen, F. & Wilcox, P., 2010). This consequence may involve
things such as money, or pleasurable feelings (physically or mentally). Based
on the social learning theory individuals that live in environments where crime
is positively reinforced will eventually conduct these same acts and commit the
crime. Sometimes these environments are not deliberately forced on the
individual such as a child that grows up in a home and has an abusive father.
This child could grow up believing that this is ok, and one day has their own
family can turn abusive their selves. Indeterminate sentencing is the best pair
for this model, because some offenders may have not had a good chance in
developing in the environment they lived in. If an offender may need help in
correcting what he learned what is right from wrong, and the court can identify
this, then the court would sentence the offender appropriately, aiding in their
rehabilitation back in to society.

All three theories have valid
grounds to stand on with supporting evidence even today. Our judicial system is
ever evolving to fit the growing need to suppress the crime, punish the guilty,
and to rehabilitate offenders back in to society. Out of the three theories the
best suited pair of theory and sentencing model that could be used to reduce
crime is the classic theory with determinate sentencing. This theory is the only
theory that incorporates deterrence and would be supported by determinate
sentencing. The social theory would be directly impacted by a judicial system
with a greater deterrence system emplace and would reduce crime is penalties
were greater. Our current problem in the United States is that we have several environments
that individuals learn from each other such as the social theory supports. The
classical theory is not all encompassing because it does not take in factors of
how an induvial may have a mental disorder or commit crimes that they could not
mentally control. The classical system would not aide in rehabilitating individuals
as such but over all would decrease crime rates supported by determinate sentencing.

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