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In Criminology there are
several different theories that have been created by many different people. The
three theories that will be covered in this paper are Classical, Social, and
Trait. The three theories will be breaking down by explaining the history, and
ideal that supports each theory. Each theory will also be compared to each
other and at the end they will be paired  with a type of sentencing model (Indeterminate
or Determinate) best suits that specific theory and why.

The Classical criminology
theory dates back to eighteenth century writings of Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy
Bentham (Akers, R, 2014). Both social philosophers were primarily concerned
with legal and penal reform rather than with formulating an explanation of
criminal behavior. In doing so they formulated a theory of crime that remains
relevant to criminology even today. During the eighteenth century the legal
system was marred by many issues in the judicial systems in Europe and
punishments were based on cruel punishments that ranged from whipping, to
public hanging, to mutilations. Due to reforms in the eighteenth century many
of these cruel and unusual punishments were disbanded and new ideas were
instituted such as the right to a speedy trial. Other ideals were instituted
during that same era such as a legislatively fixed scale of punishment for each
type and degree of crime.

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The Basic premise in the
classical criminology theory is that actions are taken, and decisions are made
by a person in the rational exercise of free will. An individual chooses to
obey or violate the law by a rational calculation of the risk of pain versus
potential pleasure derived from an act. When a person contemplates a criminal
act, they consider the probable legal penalties and the likelihood that they
will be caught. If the person believes that the penalty has a greater pain than
reward for the crime, then they will not commit the crime. If they calculate that
the crime has a greater reward to punishment ratio they will more then likely
commit the crime. Their calculations are based on their own experiences with
criminal punishments, their knowledge of what punishment is imposed by law and
their awareness of what punishment has been given to arrest offenders in the

 In this theory the primary purpose of criminal
law is deterrence. It would not be used to avenge the wrong doings that have
been done to the state or victim. Judges would also do nothing more than
determine guilt or innocence and would not use any discretion to alter
penalties provided for by the law. To Bentham and Beccaria the punishment must
“fit the crime” meant that the punishments for the crime was proportional to
the harm caused to society and that the punishment must be tailored to be just
as severe to overcome the gain in committing the crime (Akers, R, 2012). In the
classical theory, the determinate sentencing method is required because it is
required to have a set punishment for the specific crime that creates
deterrence. If the indeterminate sentencing model was used, criminals would
either get less of a sentence or would just committing crimes based on a
calculation of chance of how harsh the punishment would really be.

The Trait Theory is a theory of
criminology that states that certain personality traits can predispose a person
to crime. Its roots stem from Michael Lombroso (Olson, 2013) which states
that criminals are throwbacks to a more priumanity, both physically and mentally. Individual
Trait Theory is based on a mix between biological factors and environmental
factors. Trait Theory suggests that we all have parameters set by our
genetics, and our experiences determine how we act.

There are many different views on
what makes up a person’s personality, what traits a person has, and how to
categorize those traits. Gordon Allport, one of the pioneers of trait theory,
recognized that there are 4000 personality traits in the dictionary, so he
split these up into three categories; Cardinal, Central and Secondary. Cardinal
traits are defined as traits that summarize a person entirely. Central traits
are words used to describe a person such as kind, funny, or loud. 
Secondary are defined as traits that only pertain to a person in certain
situations such as “Road Rage” (Sincero, 2012). 

In the Trait Theory, this
information can be very important factors for profiling criminals. For an
example a serial killer might have a cardinal trait of narcissism, because he
is always self-centered; a trait you cannot change. He could have many central
traits that include a lack of empathy or the ability to manipulate because
while he cannot be defined by these traits, he can be described by them. His
secondary traits could be of charm or intimidation, because these traits can be
used to his advantage in certain situations to manipulate (Kouri, 2009). In use
of this example the indeterminate sentencing model would be best suited for
this theory. Based on the theory that a person was born with a trait, suggests
that a person would be guilty for a crime before it is even committed.
Indeterminate sentencing would allow a judge or jury to see this and sentence
the offender appropriately, and may allow the court to see what type of help that
offender really needs to reintegrate back into society.