Sample Criminal Justice Paper on Classical School and Positivist School of Criminal Justice

Classical School and Positivist School of Criminal Justice


This paper discusses the two schools of thought in criminal justice, namely the classical school and positivist school. It explains how spiritual theories were ineffective in proving their ideologies to the extent that more naturalistic theories were developed. Administering punishment concerning any crime committed, and the essence of equality in trials are the main ideologies of the classical school described. Multiple aspects that are well explained under the positivist school of thought determine the empirical facts supporting the crime.

Classical School and Positivist School of Criminal Justice

The prediction of crime trends in the coming generation is a very difficult aspect facing many scholars. In the past, spiritual theories have been applied to identify criminal behavior with no scientific prove. This led to the introduction of improved theories that are more naturalistic by analyzing the physical world based on facts. The naturalistic theories consider criminal behavior through bodily constitutions as portrayed in positivist school and the person’s will as shown in the classical school.

Classical School of Criminal Justice

            According to this school, a criminal is analyzed and emphasized as a person who is capable of evaluating what he/she intends to do. The classical school utilizes the philosophical aspect that humans have free will, and hedonism that guides a given behavior. Various behaviors are portrayed by individuals who have already considered the rewards and risks associated with the actions.

The classical school further emphasizes that in administering punishment, the offense committed should be considered as opposed to the traits of the criminal. This will ensure that people are subjected to equal treatment before any given law. Individuals should not, at any given circumstances, be given rewards or punished by considering their names or titles in the society. By so doing, equity and fairness will be emphasized, which is a key aspect of criminal law. 

Most ideas of the classical school aided in the development of the laws in different countries like the U.S., and inspired revolutions in countries, such as France. Currently, the ideas of issuing the punishment concerning the crime committed, and the principle of equality and fairness before the law are widely used in criminal justice. However, the issue of hedonism in determining behavior has been questioned on the basis of the increment in mitigating circumstances and the fades of the essence of aggravating (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2014).

Positivist School of Criminal Justice

            The positivist school makes use of facts in supporting the main ideology that crime is as a result of multiple factors. This is element differentiates the positivist school from the classical school. Otherwise, they contain the same ideologies. The positivist school works towards proofing that a given crime is committed as a result of elements contained in the associated person.

The school of positivist pays emphasizes on the body and mind of the associated criminal, and neglects the extrinsic social elements of the individual to a given level. In the current period, the elements of this school are portrayed all over the world, for instance, in the beauty contests involving women. The contestants show their beautifully dressed bodies and exhibit their artistic performance to some extent. The artistic performance usually supports the bodily beauty that can be considered as the main ideology, thereby portraying the element of positivist (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 2014).

These two schools are natural and empirical by nature having facts to support their main elements. The positivist school is more of a supplement to the classical school of criminal justice. The principles of these two schools are of much aid to the current society having integrated with most laws of various countries. The school has promoted the attainment of justice in various criminal law, through ensuring equity and fairness are emphasized with the support of facts proving the innocence or guiltiness of individuals.


Lilly, J. R., Cullen, F. T., & Ball, R. A. (2014). Criminological Theory: Context and consequences (6th ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.