Circle Sentencing and Classical Criminology
Circle sentencing is the process whereby a criminal is tried and a verdict is produced through a communal process rather than the normal courts or judicial system. In circle sentencing, it is imperative that the criminal first plead guilty and be willing to participate in the process.
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The process of circle sentencing is believed to alter the rights of defendants described in classical theory in several ways which will be outlined below. It is essential to note that the alteration of these rights can be either positive or negative, depending on the criminal’s dispensation or nature of crime.
According to classical criminology, the crime of an individual is regarded as a crime towards society that can only be punished by the society. Also, in classical criminology, the punishment is often awarded according to the crime and the individual traits of the criminal are not considered.
The general perspective and approach to crime in classical criminology means that two criminals who have committed a similar crime will have similar rights. This is irrespective of differences in their unique individualistic circumstances such as their psychological state or even social and financial status.
However, circle sentencing directly contradicts this since the process tends to be more individualistic in nature. Even though circle sentencing is carried out by society, the special circumstances surrounding the crime and the criminal are usually put into consideration.
This alters the rights of defendants described in classical theory since the punishment is no longer just served to fit the crime. It is also served in a measure that puts the individualistic factors surrounding the criminal himself into consideration.
This alteration is not a problem since the punishment resulting from circle sentencing will end up being more effective and comprehensive. As far as deterrence and criminal punishment is concerned, circle sentencing is an improvement to the classical theory of crime and punishment.
Positivist criminology began in the 19th century. This is whereby; unlike in the former classical models of crime that attributed criminal behavior to social factors, a criminal was pre-determined by various biological features. This theory was refined in the post-colonial era to constitute only the psychological traits of a criminal.
According to Freud, various psychological traits which are common in all criminals are usually a product of the parenting process. It is these psychological problems resulting from poor parenting practice that result into a child growing up with criminal tendencies.
Using this foundational Freudian premise, various positivist criminological theories were developed. It was believed that particular personality types and characteristics are directly attributable to crime. Various measurement methods were developed in order to identify, measure and classify certain traits associated with criminal behavior. It has become common to use standard scales, questionnaires and inventories to identify and classify criminal minds.
The latest trend in positivist criminology is what is referred to as profiling. Criminal profiling based on certain identifiable behavioral patterns and psychological markings is a common criminal identifying tactic in the United States.
Even though the effectiveness of the investigative methodology has not been scientifically proven, it has proven to be successful in several counts. It is not uncommon to find profiling, a positivist criminology concept, being used as a defense tactic in child sex abuse cases.
The use of positivist criminology and psychology has also been effectively applied in behavioral modification programs for offenders. Traits that have been successfully modified using this approach include certain cognitive distortions which have resulted in the prevention of recidivism. While evidence of the effectiveness of such approaches is unverifiable, the exceptions to the rule have not been enough to dismiss positivism as a criminological approach and theory.
Risk – A Gendered Phenomenon
The concept of risk or edgework is considered a gendered phenomenon in two main aspects. Initially, it was believed that males are more risk takers compared to females. However, further research revealed that this conclusion was merely due to the fact that the majority of criminals interviewed in the study were male offenders.
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The gendered aspect of risk which has been verified is the fact that men and women participate in different types of risk-taking or edgework activities. The risk activities associated with male criminals often involve status and prestige-related activities.
These edgework activities in the male gender often involve the self-expression of one’s dominance or anti-conformity to the structured life in the modern society. The male risk activities are often more dominant and easily recognizable compared to the female activities due to their verifiability.
For the female gender, the risk activities are usually related with their sexuality. The female is considered to be participating in edgework when they take sexual risks such as unsafe and indiscriminate sex. The other aspect of risk taking for the female is their resistance in violent relationships.
This is clearly evident in the women who continue to stay in a relationship that is both abusive and a risk to their own lives. This gendered aspect of risk in women is however not accurately verifiable because it is not always easy to determine whether those taking part in the risk activities are actually engaging in risk-taking or edgework.
In this essence thus, risk is a gendered activities because a stark difference still exists in the nature of edgework between the male and female criminals.