1. The major principles of the Classical School of Criminology begin with emphasize rationality, which is a human being in a situation in which a person has the free will to make a rational choice. Pain and pleasure are two determinants that come into hand when making rational choices. Another major principle of the classical school of criminology would be hedonism, which is a thought that argues that pleasure and happiness are the primary or the most important goods. In simple terms, this is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. The third major principle being Punishment, this being an undesirable or unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, given out by an authority. This is given as a response and deterrent to a specific action or behavior that is deemed undesirable or unacceptable. The fourth major principle being human rights. Human rights are those rights seen as being fundamental freedoms to which all humans are entitled to, that they can use to their defense. The fifth major principle is something every individual accused of breaking the law is entitled to which is Due Process. This being guaranteed by the constitution, ensuring that the government provides justice to its citizens providing fundamental fairness under the law.
2. The important thinkers of the classical school began with Cesare Beccaria. Cesare believed that punishment was a better deterrence more than retribution, that all criminals have control over their behavior. Beccaria believed that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. “No man can be called guilty before a judge has sentenced him, nor can society deprive him of public protection” (Schmalleger, pg.60). Another one of the most important thinkers of the classical school was Jeremy Bentham. Jeremy believed that pain must outweigh the pleasure and that a punishment must be sufficient for the crime, “Bentham’s approach has been termed hedonistic calculus or utilitarianism because of its emphasis on the worth of any action holds for individuals taking it” (Schmalleger, pg.61). Both Beccaria and Bentham believed that crimes provide pleasure and that punishment is the way to prevent individuals from doing the same crime or worse.
The shortcomings of the classical school of criminology have to be that it represents a philosophy on justice rather than it does a theory of crime causation. It lacks explanatory power over criminal motivation, on what pleasures criminals get from committing the crimes they do and why some after being punished continue down the criminal path