Criminology is the study of crime, its causes, and preventive measures including responses by law enforcement. Theunderstanding about the causes of crime and prevention responses has evolved with the evolution of human society. Throughout history, crime has been inevitable, and people have been committing offenses against each other. In ancient times, people used revenge as a responsive measure against crimes. These responses were often not proportionate, and the original criminals perceived themselves as the victims due to harsh actions taken against them. The early laws allowed the victim of a crime to issue the punishment but attempted to put measures that ensured the severity of the punishment equalled the particular crime. Many ideas were preserved from the Old Testament of the Bible, often with the reference of the statement “an eye for an eye.”
Plato was among the first philosophers to theorize that crime was as a result of poor education and the punishments should have been assessed and allow for mitigation circumstances. Aristotle suggested that crime responses should have aimed at preventing future acts and therefore served as a deterrent to others. The Roman Republic was the first society to develop modern legal systems by taking a role in responding to crimes to belong to the government with the aim of maintaining an ordered society (Pifferi, 2016). Further, the introduction and spread of Christianity developed merits of forgiveness, and views about punishment began to evolve. The development of criminology was precipitated by sociologists who tried to get to the roots of these crimes by studying the environment and the individual.AdolpheQuetelet, a Belgium statistician, came up with the first publication of crime relation, and his findings stated that most crimes were committed by undereducated poor young males. He also found out that more crimes were committed in wealthy areas that were located close to the poorer regions. Other studies related crime to biological and hereditary elements. These historical theories established different types of criminology.
There are various types of criminology, but there are those considered mainstream, namely strain, learning, and control criminology. Strain criminology is a 1938 American version of French sociology. It was invented by Emile Durkheim, the father of modern sociology. This type of criminology sees crime as a result of ‘American dream’ where people set their aspirations too high but discover inevitable strain on their way, and the only options they are left with are toreduce aspirations or increase opportunities (Vito and Maahs, 2015). Learning criminology can be based on Edwin Sunderland’s theory of differential association developed in 1947.It is simplified as ‘peer group’ theories, but to large extend, it involves analysing what is negatively or positively rewarding to individuals. The final type is the social control criminology based on control theories. It focuses on ones’ relationships to their agents including teachers, parents, and preachers among others. It figures how effective boding can translate into relating well with the society hence obeying the law.
Strain criminology best explains criminals and crimes today. This is because of the strain the society places to achieve financial success with limited resources; individuals are left with the option of turning to deviant act to make it. This can be explained by crimes in a certain neighbourhood like Chicago where there arecontinued cases of killings and shootings, especially performed by young people organized in gangs. Factors driving these crimes include histories of poverty, joblessness, and neglect in these neighbourhoods.These factors explain the underlying cause of crimes across the American cities, but the intensity of connection of society ills and violence persists in Chicago neighbourhoods. Young people are forced to resist the harsh punishments of law and get into drug deals led by gangs to have these lavish lives like other successful American because the society has failed to set decent ways for young people to achieve success.
Criminology has evolved with time, and today, there are better responsive measures. The intensity of cause of crime is, however, making these crimes worse, and the forceful implementation of the law against the resistant criminals has transformed into bloody killings by the police. Governments need to look at the underlying causes of crime and concentrate on solving them instead of the brutally punishing strained individuals.
Pifferi, M. (2016). Reinventing Punishment: A Comparative History of Criminology and Penology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Oxford University Press.
Vito, G. F., &Maahs, J. R. (2015). Criminology. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.