The positivist school of criminology provides some assumptions regarding the nature of human beings focusing on rationality of behavior and freewill (Coleman & Norris, 2000). It argues about the nature of crime and emphasizes on key motivational factors. The positivist school emerged in the late eighteenth century and values scientific reasoning and intelligence as a means of ensuring that a society operates smoothly as a way of understanding and preventing criminal activities. Positivism refers to an approach that views crime to be generated through biological or psychological forces present within an individual. As a result is analyses and foresees the possible crime patterns, together with analyzing human behavior with the help of various disciplines. This help to identify the key crime reasons.
Cesare Lombroso, a proponent of positivism, claimed that science may be used to predict or to provide suitable hypothesis which may be used to quantify and explain objectively human behavior whether biological or psychological, since science can provide answers to the causes of crime (McLaughlin & Muncie, 2005). According to the belief of the positivists, human behavior is determined by individual and biological differences. Lombroso made attempts to prove that criminals were physically different from other people. He also believed that there is an inborn criminality in offenders. Therefore, the positivists believed that an extreme mesomorph is more likely to commit crime than an extreme ectomorph as a result of the stronger physique and muscle mass. This supports the views of Sheldon or the body type theory which claims that an individual’s body type is a combination of the endomorph, mesomorph, and the ectomorph. This also supports the idea that men are more likely to engage in criminal activities compared to women. Therefore, individual positivism emphasizes on the need to prevent and treat crime, since it allows for amore humane and effective way of treating and preventing this kind of activity.
How the model would impact the current criminal justice system in the US?
The positivists advocated for a rejection of punishment and its replacement with a form of treatment based on rehabilitation or treatment model. It also advocates for freewill and the replacement of scientific determinism. In addition, it advocates for a rejection of the study of criminal law and its replacement with a study of the individual offender and his or her medical, psychological as well as social characteristics. In the US, the medical model or rehabilitation emerged as a primary goal of the justice system with an underlying assumption that the factors that drive an individual to become a criminal are easy to identify and treatment plans can be formulated and administered to rehabilitate the offenders.
In the current criminal justice system, criminologists support the idea that biochemistry can be used to determine the differences between individuals by revealing a complex interaction between biochemical and individual factors between criminals and non-criminals. Therefore, it should be understood that the biological theories have changed over time and are currently not followed. Therefore, in the US rehabilitation, commonly referred to as the medical model, has emerged as a primary goal of the justice system with an underlying assumption that the factors which make a person be regarded as a criminal are easy to identify, and treatment or correction plans can easily be formulated and administered to rehabilitate criminals. Therefore, criminals are viewed as patients to be treated and not as wrongdoers. The ideal of rehabilitation involves the isolation and correction measures within an individual and the specific deficits that contribute to criminal behavior.