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Theories of Criminal Justice: A Critical Reappraisal

NCJ Number
R D Ellis; C S Ellis
Date Published
238 pages
Major philosophies of criminal justice are critically reviewed from a theoretical perspective that rests on empirical findings from criminology, psychology, and sociology.

The discussion challenges the common assumptions that humans are always rationally motivated, that punishment and negative reinforcement affect behavior in the same way, that the extent to which social and economic factors affect human character is irrelevant, and that only the severity of punishment is at issue in discussions of deterrence. The analysis concludes that the extent to which people are rationally motivated is a variable rather than a constant and that punishment by itself is not the appropriate method for preventing crime. In addition, environmental factors partly predetermine criminal behavior. Therefore, deterrence is ineffective by itself, rehabilitation is even less ineffective, and retribution is impractical. Nevertheless, each of these theories has viable features, which can be incorporated into a communitarian theory that asserts that a community must take responsibility for the character and actions of individuals created by the community. Thus, society's responsibility is to stop producing so many crime-prone individuals. Tables, chapter notes, and index.


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