Criminology term papers

What is Criminology?

The study of criminology refers to the scientific study of the causes, prevention, and extent of criminal behavior as well as the  penalties imposed for criminal behavior.  The field of criminology is a subdivision of the field of sociology, but criminology itself also has its own subdivisions.  These include such fields as biocriminology, criminalistics, feminist criminology, and penology.  In addition, criminology draws on many other fields of study including anthropology, biology, psychology, economics and more.

History of Criminology

Criminology as a field of study has a rather recent history, emanating from the mid-18th century when some forward thinkers looked for ways to reform the criminal justice system so that penalties would be applied in a more fair and just manner rather than the often cruel, harsh and arbitrary way of meting out punishment typical of the times.   In particular, Jeremy Bentham and Cesare Beccaria are the most notable of the founders of the classical school of criminology and both subscribed to the philosophy that human beings exercise free will and that the dominant motive for making decisions is based on the desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.  From this path of reasoning, they argued that punishment should fit the crime.  In other words, the punishment for a crime committed should be enough so that the pain it provides is greater than the pleasure received from committing the crime.  Thus, torture became unnecessary.  This marked the beginning of reform for criminal justice in Europe and the US, thereby paving the way for additional reforms in penal systems.  Of particular importance are the reforms made in how punishment for children, the mentally ill, and the mentally retarted are determined.  Other well-known figures that influenced the field of criminology include Lambert Adolphe Quetelet, André Michel Guerry, and Emile Durkheim. 

Criminology Theory

Since the development of classical criminology, many different criminology theories have also arisen that attempt to explain criminal behavior. Some of the more well known include social disorganization theory, anomie theory, general strain theory, rational choice theory, labeling theory, and critical theory.

Careers in Criminology

People interested in pursuing criminology careers or criminology jobs should work toward earning a criminology degree. Criminology degrees can also be applied to other career paths such as polic work, criminal law, forensic science, and the teaching profession.  Some of the courses required to earn a criminology degree include courses in anthropology, justice, law, psychology, sociology, and statistical analysis to name just a few.

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