The U.S Constitution in Relations to Classical School of Criminology

With the increasing complexity in crime and criminology, policy makers need to employ appropriate measures to detect and deter criminal behavior. Extensive research should be done to establish the relevance of classical criminology in modern social systems. This paper critically examines the application of classical school of criminology and its influence on the US constitution.

Classical criminology and its influence on the US constitution
The United States constitution is to a certain extend is influenced by the classical theories of criminology. In classical school of criminology, the philosophy was based on evidence that people freely choose to commit crime. Classical philosophers believed that human beings sought pleasure and avoided pain with a delicate balance and consideration of the benefits for each. In addition, classical theory was based on the timing and the punitive measures taken to deter crime. The classical school of thought emphasized on utilitarian philosophies in describing. As a result, the modern forms of penology were shaped hugely by the classical theories (Barak-Glantz and Johnson 1983).  Apparently, in writing the US constitution, it appears that there was a strong influence from the classical theories and philosophies.

The rational theory choice and the US constitution
It is imperative that offenders make conscious decisions and rational planning to commit crimes. Although it may not always be clear on what motivates criminals, classical criminologists suggest that the source of all criminal behavior is traced to rational causes. In this regard, the US constitution borrows from classical school of thought in designing deterrent measures. Notably, the enactment of punitive approaches is based on the classical understanding of the concept of proportionality. Under this concept it is evident that a heavy punishment for a petty crime may not deter recurrence of crime. The reverse is also true that it is counterproductive to instill a light punishment for a serious crime. The concept of proportionality is applied to the United States constitution when designing the penal code especially for rape, robbery and murder crimes. The idea is that if all the three crimes were punishable by death, then rapists will most certainly kill the victim to destroy evidence by eliminating witnesses.

US constitution Classical criminology and its influence on the Bill of Rights
Classical criminology theories by Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Benthan had a huge influence in shaping the US criminal justice system especially the concept of human rights and free will. A closer analysis of the Bill of Rights reveals that the content and spirit of the law borrows from the theoretical perspectives of classical criminology. It is notable that the social structural theory influenced the enactment of this section of the constitution based on the conflict theory (Eck and Julie 1997).

The escalation of crime in the US pushed policy makers to enact tough penalties. As a result, the prison population surged significantly although the rate of crime reduced marginally. Classical criminologists postulated that criminals with higher IQ may not be caught easily or they may destroy evidence. This theory shaped the liberal arguments on abortion and freedom as well as the influence on subsequent amendments on the constitution. However, modern criminology especially the positive school of thought and its deterministic approach advanced by Cesare Lombroso substantially affects the justice system. This approach replaced earlier theories of free will and rationality with the determinism ideals.

The theory traced criminal tendencies to biological predetermination. But this approach has faced opposition from different researchers.

Classical school of thought on criminology continues to exert its relevance in modern justice systems. In particular, the US constitution is one of the legal documents that borrow heavily from classical social theories and principles. In this regard, researchers need to refine classical principles and analyze their implications to modern social systems.


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