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Report No. 202

Chapter III

Conclusions and Recommendations

3.1 Theoretical Perspective:

Different societies react differently to crimes and their perpetrators depending upon their respective value system and prevailing philosophy at a given time. Reasons for commission of crimes and the personality traits of criminals are so varied, complex and innumerable that these are not amenable to any exhaustive description and comprehension. Criminals are sometimes viewed as born criminal and psychopath and sometimes as victims of circumstances.

This has been very aptly described by Elmer Hubart Johonson when he observed in Crime, Correction and Society at page 3 that a criminal may be described as a monster or be pictured as a hunted animal or as the helpless victim of brutality. Likewise, socio-economic reasons, among others, are quite often ascribed as explanation for commission of crimes. Over a period of time, social approaches and responses to crimes and their perpetrators have been generalized and classified into different theoretical profiles.

Theories of criminality have a twofold purpose: they help to organize existing information about criminal behaviour into a coherent, systematic framework, and they serve to point out directions for further research by indicating potentially fruitful leads to be explored. In addition, theories of criminality may help establish some rational basis for Programmes aimed at controlling, reducing, eliminating or preventing crime and delinquency. (See Criminology and Crime An Introduction by Harold J. Vetter and Ira J. Silverman (1986) p. 235).

Accordingly, we see the emergence of certain theories of penology which are imbibed in varied degrees and proportion in almost all the legal orders the world over. Thus, we have the punitive approach which is traditional in nature and universal in its import and application whereby the criminal is viewed as a bad guy and punishment is inflicted on the offender as retribution and also to protect the society by deterring members of the society from commission of crimes. Then, there is another approach called therapeutic approach.

According to this, a criminal is a victim of circumstances. In this approach, a criminal is viewed as a sick person, requiring treatment. Thus, it may be seen that in the two approaches referred to above, criminal is the center of attraction and is viewed in two diametrically opposed perspectives and therefore, is meted out different treatment in each of these two approaches. There is yet another theory wherein the focus is not on the criminal but on the factors that lead one to become criminal and thrust is on removal of such factors with a view to prevent commission of crimes.

This approach is thus called the preventive approach. Besides, certain other theories too have developed over the years dealing with different aspects of criminology. There are some who deals with the manner in which criminal should be dealt with. To mention some of these are classical and positivist theories, retribution theory, utilitarian theory, deterrent theory, corrective and reformative theory and rehabilitatory theory, humanitarian theory, etc.

Then there are some others which focus on the factors that lead one to commit a crime. To mention, some of these theories are socio-economic theories, sociological theories, sociopsychological and psychiatric and biological and anthropological theories. A blend of all these approaches will be found in all the legal systems the world over though in different proportions and degrees.

These approaches are, however, not mutually exclusive. Rather they supplement each others. All these approaches deal with different facets of criminology and are, as such, necessary for understanding and appreciating criminal jurisprudence, especially, penology in an integrated manner and helps in the formulation of public policy on crimes and punishment by way of prevention and correction.



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