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Cpss240 Alternative Perspectives in Criminology

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Alternative Perspectives in Criminology

By: Terene Brown


Instructor: Denaya Wininger

October 22, 2018

Critical Criminology

“Critical criminology is the belief that capitalism produces haves and have-nots, each engaging in a particular branch of criminality. The mode of production shapes social life. Because economic competitiveness is the essence of capitalism, conflict increases and eventually destabilizes social institutions and the individuals within them” (Siegel, 2016, Chapter 8). Critical criminology not only rejects traditional theories of crime causation, but challenges conventional understandings of crime and punishment by uncovering false beliefs and perspectives. Its chosen theory is the inequalities of capitalist society. Critical criminologists are confident that once those falsehoods are exposed, the true root of crime will be discovered: social injustice created by economic and social inequality (Siegel, 2016, Chapter 8).

Most conflict theories ultimately share common foundations with Marxism, a social and political theory inspired by the writings of Karl Marx (Siegel, 2016, Chapter 8). Marx, who was a philosopher and political theorist, believed capitalism was the root cause of modern social and economic inequality, and that those who hold wealth and power struggle with those who want to take those from them (“Karl Marx and His Theories”, n.d.). Though Marx did not specifically present a formal explanation of criminal behavior, it doesn't take much effort to conclude a Marxist theory on crime from his ideas. People at the top of a society, who Marx calls the bourgeoisie, or the ownership class, were inherently guilty of the crime of exploiting the working class (“Karl Marx and His Theories”, n.d.). This is done naturally within a capitalist system or any non-free society. The state and the law itself ultimately serve the interests of the ownership class; revolution is a morally justified, necessary form of counter-violence. This conflict between the ownership class and the exploited class creates crime due to need and moral outrage (“Karl Marx and His Theories”, n.d.).

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice can be defined as a theory that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior. Restorative justice focuses on conflict resolution between the victim, offender, and the community (Siegel, 2016, Chapter 8). The goal is to resolve an issue by getting the offender to take responsibility for their actions rather than resorting to incarceration or some other form of punishment (Siegel, 2016, Chapter 8). This process allows the victim and others to express how the incident affected them and figure out a way to repair the harm. Advocates of restorative justice believe that the traditional methods of punishment are not effective because most inmates seem to recidivate after being released from prison (Siegel, 2016, Chapter 8).


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