The current controversy over the appropriate direction for American criminal justice policy does not exist in an ahistorical or apolitical vacuum. Contemporary debates concerning the
causes of crime, the proper purpose of the criminal sanction, and over the pragmatics of
criminal justice reform are outgrowths of the prescriptions and policies of past students of criminal justice. Hence, to facilitate our understanding of the issues which surround the cur-
rent dispute over crime and punishment in America, we will examine two schools of crimi-
nology which have dominated thinking about crime and criminal justice for the past two hundred years. The classical and positivist schools are based on distinct sets of underlying
ideological assumptions, posit differing rationales for punishment, and suggest unique
social policies to deal with crime. Their disparate assumptions, as we shall see throughout these chapters, lie at the heart of the debate between supporters of rehabilitation and sup-
porters of punishment.