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The classical view of punishment was fueled by the notion that offenders were evil men and women who had to be punished severely or killed for their egregious acts. It was felt that the demons that possessed the offenders would never leave except by expiation and punishment.

As the influence of natural and social science grew, many individuals began to reexamine the widely accepted idea that crime resulted from demonic possession, free will, or mental imbalance. Positivists took a progressive stance and began to analyze the causes of crime and punishment.

Prepare an essay (3–4 pages) on the differences between the classical and positivist approaches to punishment.

Assignment Guidelines:



Assignment: Analyze a landmark case(s) as assigned by the instructor. The assessment should include a full discussion of the case, the Court’s decision and the impact it had on the United States political/legal environment. 


•Only discuss the topic and questions presented 

•8-12 pages, double spaced

•1-inch margins

•12 point Times New Roman font

•At least 5 credible sources

•Fully and accurately cite all sources

•Worth 25% of your total class grade (250 points)

•No late papers will be accepted

•Must be submitted to the online portal

•Plagiarism will NOT be tolerated



Selected cases:


Roe v. Wade (1973)

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

United States v. Nixon (1974)

Regents of the Univ. of California v. Bakke (1978)

Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

Bush v. Gore (2000)




  • Use your course materials, the textbook, the Web resources, and the library to research the classical and positivist approaches to punishment.
  • In a Word document of 3–4 pages, address the following:
    • Identify 2 specific differences and 2 similarities between each perspective as it relates to punishment.
    • Examine 2 of the social arguments used to support both schools of thought.
    • Out of the 2 schools of thought, which do you agree with most?
    • Include 3 philosophical or social issues that could be used to support either model.

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