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Competing Theories

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Competing Theories of Corrections
Ruth Cushman
American Intercontinental University
March 11, 2012

Competing Theories of Corrections Correctional theories are series of interrelated propositions or assertions that attempt to describe, explain, predict, and define criminal behavior. There are many different theories that have been created over the years to help explain the relationships between criminal behavior and punishment. The theories of corrections have no doubt changed and shifted over the years, the more people began to understand the rationale behind criminal behavior. Several centuries ago, criminal behavior was once thought to sin guided by the devil or evil spirits, and most often was punished by hanging, beheading, or burning the offender. Then, around the time of the American and French revolutions offenders began to be seen more as highly rational beings who intentionally chose their own courses of action (Schmalleger, 2012). Contemporary sentencing stems mainly from the Classical School theory. This theory stated that criminality, rather than being caused by evil or some higher beings, was actually the result of the bad choices people make of their own free will. The other competing theories of corrections besides the Classical School, prevalent in today’s prison system are retribution, deterrence, restorative justice, and rehabilitation. According to the Classical School theory, the punishment should fit the crime equally. Meaning, that the punishment a person is given should equally fit the seriousness of the crime committed, and not be more extreme such as hanging or burning someone. Someone who steals should not be burned at the stake, because the punishment does not fit the seriousness of the crime. The need for punishment is still there, but it is just applied more rationally....

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