Theoretical significance of Criminology
Explaining the theoretical significance of the science of criminology the eminent criminologist Sutherland writes; “This knowledge will contribute to the development of other social studies and through other social studies it will contribute to efficiency in general social control.”
The foregoing observation of Sutherland is extremely significant as it brings into relief the theoretic importance and value of the science of criminology. The chief theoretic benefits of criminology are the following:
(1) Knowledge of Crime-Data-In every social community and group, there are always some criminals and incidence of crime. It is not humanly possible to bring about an ideal republic or perfect society in which every chance of criminal behaviour has been eliminated. The nature of crime and criminals may undergo sea-change, but the very existence of crime cannot be uprooted. This is not difficult to appreciate. In crime psychosis we have two kinds of factors: personal and social .It is not possible to eliminate the aggressive and acquisitive tendencies from man and, again, it is equally impossible to eliminate all inequalities and anomalies from any society. This is borne out by the fact that even under communist regime crimes are not non-existent. Therefore, given the kinds of men and societies known to man, we can safely say that each society, even a social group, harbours some criminals. A systematic, scientific and unbiased study of criminology furnishes us with factual, true and realistic data about crimes and criminals; this results in increase in our knowledge. By studying criminology we also learn about the kinds or types of crimes and criminals and also about the modus essendi as well as modus operandi of crimes. This enables us to compile what may be called taxonomy of crime, that is, an extensive and deep classification of crimes. We also learn about the causes and reasons of criminals behaviour.
(2) Penal Legislation-The science of ___________ upon the penal legislation, that is, it helps formulation of rational and humane laws regarding crime and punishment. Criminology attempts both extensive and intensive study of crime under all perspectives and by taking into account every possible viewpoint. Thus its analysis and description of crime is scientific, authentic and reliable. This analytical description helps in determination of the exact causes of various categories of crime, and this information, in turn, helps to formulate preventive and remedial laws regarding crime. Besides helping to make laws, criminology also carries out extensive surveys regarding the impact of various laws on the actual incidence of crime. It is found that a particular law, instead of curbing crime, encourages it, the law is amended in the light of fresh evidence. Thus, the various laws regarding prohibition and narcotics are cases in point. In the light of modern knowledge gained by extensive surveys and in-depth studies, there are proposals to declare suicide not criminal. In
(3) Information about White-Collar Crime-To an average man, the nature and number of crimes is quite definite. Asked to enumerate crimes, he will name only murder, assault, dacoity, rape, loot and arson, burglary and theft, sodomy and reduction as the only instances of crime. He may have difficulty in appreciating that maltreatment of one’s cattles, bestiality with them are criminal. But he will certainly be baffled if he is told that misuse of power, nepotism etc; are criminal and equally, if not more, harmful to society than other crimes. However, the not easily recognizable crimes are not considered crime by an average person because they are committed by well-to-do, upper-bracket persona and normally involve little violence. But such acts, whosoever may commit them, are very much criminal. For example, if a man earns a huge ransom by letting out the secrets of someone, he is indulging in black mail. The private secretaries and yalets of top political and finance magnets usually have access to many intimate secrets and there is strong temptation to earn big money by the threatening exposure. Many innocent persons are made victims of this vicious commercial mal practices, for example, under-invoicing, graft etc. To gain some advantage by production of false testimonials is an act of forgery and the crime of forgery is quite widespread. Again, sexual abuse of private secretaries is fairly common in advanced countries. All these are white-collar criminals and their crimes are really criminal activity. The Watergate scandal threatening the office of President Nixon is a classic instance of white-collar crime.
The Practical Importance of Criminology
Apart from having theoretical value and importance, criminology also has much practical use and importance. In the words of Sutherland, “Criminology is concerned with the immediate application of knowledge to the programmes of social control of crime.” Following are some of the specific practical uses of criminology.
(1) Elimination of Crimes-The elimination of crime is one of the specific aim of criminology. It helps society in controlling and eliminating the crime both directly and indirectly. It is most obvious that if one knows the cause of a malady, its cure becomes easy. It is a truism in medical practice that correct diagnosis is more than half the cure. The same holds good in regard to the phenomenon of crime. By the knowledge of the causes of the crime, we can undertake specific measures to remove them.
(2) Helpful in understanding the Psychology of the Criminal-Criminology is practical study. With the help of its knowledge we can easily assess the attitudes and opinions of the criminals. The study of criminology helps us to pin-point the factors responsible for the various crimes, that is, we learn as to how a particular crime is generated. There by we are able to correlate specific crime with specific set of circumstances. Apart form learning about the psychology of crime, the knowledge of criminology helps us to classify the criminals, that is, we are enabled to correlate personal factors like age, family and social background, education and physical environs, physical and mental traits with different types of crime. Thus for example, it may be revealed traits with different types of crime. Thus for example, it may be revealed that sexual crimes are committed, contrary to general impression, by persons with low sex-drive rather than by highly-sexed persons. A prostitute-monger may be consorting with different women so as to cover up the self consciousness and guilt over inadequate performance or he may be doing so in order to receive the thrill of personal quirks and varied techniques of arousal exercise by the professional sex-vendors. These facts make it abundantly clear that the study of criminology goes a long way in helping us to appreciate the psychology of crime and criminal.
(3) Reforms of Criminals-Besides controls, prevention and elimination of crime, it is the important task and responsibility of the science of criminology to device and suggest measures for the reforms and rehabilitation of the criminal. For example, to wean a prostitute from the sale of her bodily wares, we must know how and why she has taken to this profession. In the societies which do not stigmatize such persons and are prepared to accept them, the task is relatively easy. Again, it is easy if the prostitute has taken to this profession from economic hardships and other compulsions but it disgusted with what she is doing. But if, on the contrary, either the society is orthodox or the prostitutes like and enjoy what they are doing, the task of reform is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
(4) Reforms of Evil Forces-Every society are under the influence of certain evil forces and their removal is the concern of every well-meaning member of the society. The science of criminology helps us a great deal in appreciating and understanding these evil forces and, thus, enables us to device ways and means for the effective check of those forces.