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  • Praneeta Jha

Basis of criminology

Updated: Apr 14, 2023



Criminology is an emerging field of study. Moreover, with the improvement and progress of general society as a whole, the nature and effects of wrongdoing have changed. Criminology is the type of field that needs to change its trends with the changing times and needs to develop its hypotheses and its approaches to be applicable in the justice system. Whenever done accurately, it would improve the viability of strategies as well as open new doors for forensics. If criminology does not change, it will not be able to keep up with the times and would give up on progress. Here in this article, the author has discussed in detail the various parts of criminology and how it could be advanced to make a living in the coming future[i].

  • Concept of criminology

The word criminology was originally created by combining two ancient Greek words "krino" meaning accusation and "logos" meaning reason or study. Consequently, by simply understanding the root words, we can agree that the term implies "the study of accusation." Criminology is the scientific study of crime, including its causes, law enforcement responses, and techniques for avoiding them. It is a sub-assembly of sociology, which is the logical study of social behavior. There are many fields of study that tap into criminology, including science, insights, brain research, psychiatry, financial affairs, and the humanities. In 1885, the Italian lawyer Raffaele Garofalo came up with the term criminology. However, during that time, it did not get the limelight. In the early days of its launch, it emphasized changing the criminal law, not the reasons for the crimes. The main textbook that explicitly dealt with criminology was written in 1920 by the American humanist Maurice Parmalee under the title "Criminology", thereby advancing into the framework of just transfer.

Just as criminology is a subgroup of sociology, criminology itself has several subgroups that include:

• Penology: the study of prisons and prison systems.

• Bio criminology: the study of the biological basis of criminal behaviour.

• Feminist criminology: the study of women and crime.

• Forensics: the study of detecting criminal activity.

History and theory of criminology

There are a wide variety of criminology hypotheses that have been developed over the previous 250 years or so. As some of them have fallen out of fame, some of them are still considered relevant today. The creation of criminology as a field of study can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when two social researchers, Cesare Beccaria in Italy and Jeremy Bentham in England, advanced the possibility that punishment should be outrageous to the extent that the criminal would think that the enjoyment of the demonstration he does not deserve the agony of discipline. This was known as the old school of criminology. Back in 1995, a judge in California sentenced a man to prison for taking a slice of pizza. The appointed body expressed that its options are limited due to the three strikes law and the law does not allow a judge to address a specific offense. This model follows the traditional school of criminology that was created more than 200 years ago. In the mid-nineteenth century, criminologists began to argue that the old school of criminology did not distinguish between different degrees of violation. These criminologists were known as positivists. Positivists recognized that discipline should suit the rogue, not the offense.

Esare Lombroso, an Italian physician, pioneered the positivist hypothesis. He conceded that lawbreakers were conceived, not committed, and that wrongdoing involved character, not abetment. He directed large-scale investigations of the dead bodies of executed lawbreakers, thinking of the claim that particular facial features, such as extremely large jawbones and strong canine teeth, were clear signs that an individual was or would be an impostor. Nevertheless, this hypothesis proved to be less popular for moral reasons and for later speculations focused on natural factors that contribute to criminal behaviour.

During the late nineteenth century, criminologists began to consolidate science and measurement into their field. Hereditary traits were used to decide whether criminal behaviour could be linked to one relative and then another, and measurements were used to assess population and offending. In 1946, the Society for the Advancement of Criminology was formed, which later morphed into the American Criminological Society, a prudent and logical association planned for the consideration of countermeasures and reasons for the misconduct and treatment of fraudsters.

Theories of Punishment

  • Deterrent Theory

Retribution theory assumes that punishment is given just for its own sake. So he suggests that evil should be returned for evil without regard for any consequences. There are two theories into which this theory can be further divided. They are specific deterrence and general deterrence.

In specific deterrence, the punishment is designed to educate the criminal. This can reform criminals who are exposed to this theory. It is also argued that punishment reforms criminals. This is done by creating a fear that the punishment will be repeated.

While general intimidation is designed to prevent future criminal activity. Thus, this is done by making an example of each defendant. Thus, they scare citizens into not doing what the defendant does.

  • Retributive Theory

Retribution is the oldest justification for punishment. This theory insists that a person deserves punishment because he has done a wrong deed. This theory also means that no person may be arrested unless that person has broken the law. Here are the conditions when a person is considered an offender:

• The punishment given will correspond to the wrong caused by the person in question.

• He has committed a crime of certain culpability.

• Similar persons were charged with similar crimes.

• That the action was carried out by him and he was solely responsible for it. He also had full knowledge of the punishment system and possible consequences.

  • Preventive Theory

This theory uses the limitation that the offender, if he repeats the crime, is liable to death, exile or imprisonment. The theory derives its meaning from the notion that society must be protected from criminals. So the punishment here is for solidarity and defense.

Modern criminologists saw the preventive theory from a different perspective. First, they realized that social and economic forces should be removed from society. Attention should also be paid to individuals who exhibit antisocial behaviour. This is due to psychological and biological handicaps.

  • Reformative Theory

Deterrence and retaliation are examples of both classical and non-classical philosophies. Reformative theory was born out of the positive theory that positive thinking is central to crime. Therefore, according to this theory, the goal of punishment must be correction by the offender.

It is therefore not practically a punishment, but rather a rehabilitation process. So this process helps the criminal to become a good citizen as much as possible. Besides, it makes a citizen a meaningful citizen and an equal man.

  • Scope of Criminology

Criminology includes the study of various forms of crime, the causes of crime and its consequences. In other words, it examines society's response to crime and crime prevention. It is the scientific investigation of crime through the analysis of evidence.

Criminology involves the examination of evidence, the hereditary and psychological causes of crime, the various methods of investigation and sentencing, and the effectiveness of various styles of punishment, rehabilitation, and correction. Criminology includes the study of all these aspects associated with crime in general.

Criminology is the study of factors in crime. In another sense, it is an assessment

The circumstances that gave rise to the commission of the crime and the prevention/regulation of future chances of committing such a crime.

The causes of crime and methods of crime prevention are the two most important aspects of the study of criminology.

Other areas of interest in this field are – Criminal Statistics, Criminal Behaviour, Penology, Law Enforcement Evaluation, Sociology of Law, Criminal Career and Resistance[ii].

  • Criminal justice and effective law enforcement

In the 20th century, the field of criminal justice arose as an effort to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement in light of expanding due process and other rights for defendants, as explained by Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the 1980s and 1990s, the study of criminal justice expanded to include qualitative descriptive analyses of the activities of specific law enforcement agencies.

More recent criminal justice research emphasizes quantitative studies of the effectiveness of specific crime-fighting strategies and approaches. Researchers have examined whether arresting an abusive spouse prevents future abuse and whether rehabilitation programs in prisons are effective in reducing recidivism.

One area of ​​criminal justice research that has proven ineffective is trying to predict which offenders are most likely to commit subsequent crimes. Not only were the models unable to identify habitual offenders, but the researchers questioned whether such efforts violated people's constitutional rights. He fears that offenders may be punished not for what they have done, but for what they might do in the future.

Such questions are at the forefront of modern discussions of the relationship between civil rights and law enforcement. With numerous studies indicating the need to address systemic racism in many corners of the justice system, future criminologists will play an important role in creating a more just crime prevention framework.

  • Benefits of criminology to the legal system

In criminology, almost the entire equity transfer framework has been improved. It has changed the human being's response to crime, which in turn has drastically affected both victims and criminals. It helps us better understand crime, its cause and its impact on society as a whole. It has given rise to increasingly specific regions such as ecological criminology, which has made progress, police strategy, organized networks for the police, and so on. The effort is to clarify why certain occasions are perceived as wrongdoing in particular social orders and not in others, subsequently creating a law to improve the law. In addition, it builds a contrast between societies and social orders, legal and illegal, etc.

Criminology involves the investigation of several unique speculations such as old style, positivism, etc., which encourage us to understand why violations are presented. Through his various speculations, he recommends that individuals commit violations either when they see an advantage or through internal and external variables that include organic elements or social factors. All this helps legislators and law enforcement to understand malpractice in a more comprehensive way after stronger and more fundamental laws are established.

It suggests a sensible strategy for balancing bad behavior and controlling and preventing law-breaking depending on its severity. As disciplines become increasingly strict, fraudsters are aware of the potential consequences that may result from their criminal behavior and actions. This in turn reduces the crime rate.

Another way of criminology, therefore, explains the reason, causes and motive of the crime committed by the criminal and what was the thinking behind it. Overall, criminology encourages us to commit nefarious acts and hooligans even more deeply. He expresses that people can settle for choices and in this way, if he breaks the law, he faces rejection. It emphasizes the harshness of the criminal justice framework that can help prevent wrongdoing. It also prepares the legal executive to take reasonable steps to understand and set anti-infringement laws. Through each of these ways, modern criminology encourages us to understand the main driving forces of wrongdoing and provides us with the most ideal approach to address and prevent them, and in this sense, it also helps the justice delivery system.


In order to develop and sustain criminology as a discipline of learning and application, there is a need to work on the gaps and problems identified in the research survey. UGC, ICSSR and institutions already working in this field need to show more interest in this topic. UGC may think of setting up centres of excellence in criminology. The matter can also be discussed with government agencies and organizations to consider this subject in the recruitment process.

UGC or Ministry of Human Resource Development can do the needful in this matter. Bodies like the Indian Society of Criminology must act in this direction. UGC and ICSSR may consider larger and separate allocation of funds for researchers in criminology. Attention can also be paid to the development of standard curricula in criminology.

Criminology has now begun to intertwine with contemporary scientific and technological developments. This is the initial phase of our journey to the future and it relies entirely on the flexibility of our laws with current developments. Our officials should strive to make laws with the help of criminologists[iii] who are future-ready and able to tolerate change according to the required conditions. Subsequently, the innovations are expected to be used unimaginably, making Indian criminology future-proof. It is because of cutting-edge advancements that the field of criminology can advance further and take the form of a philosophy that can help the just framework of the country on every front.

Refrences [i] N.V Paranjapee Edition 2022 [ii] From the book N.V Pranjapee , especially Chapter 2

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