Classical Criminology And Johnson City Murder

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The following paper observed classical criminology while including rational choice theory relation to crime. The crime observed and discussed was the murder of one DeShaun Greer. The works of Beccaria and his theory of Classical criminology can be applied and related to the 2013 shooting and murder of a one Deshawn Greer that took place in the parking lot of Cherry grove outside the once operating night club, The Battery. The following paper will discuss the concept and overview of Classical Criminology, as well as its historical foundation, propositions, and the future direction of the theory. The crime will be discussed in detailed, including the criminal, Jamarcus Jackson. Rational choice theory along with deterrence, and free will stemmed from the Classical theory will be applied in the comparison and contrast of the theory and the crime. Second-degree murder is not only a horrendous crime that affects families and friends of the victim, but it also affects the criminal. The punishment to follow is life changing and leads one to wonder, was the crime worth it.


The crime chosen to write about is the crime that took place on the night of March 23rd, 2013 in Cherry Street parking lot in Johnson City, Tennessee. An altercation between two young men quickly became a first-degree murder case and ending in a 40-year sentence and a ruling of second-degree murder. The incident took place outside Battery, a once operating night club. This crime included two young men by the name of DeShaun Greer and Jamarcus Jackson. According to Campbell in the Johnson City Press, “Jackson, originally charged with first-degree murder for the March 23, 2014, shooting death of Greer in the Cherry Street parking lot, was convicted in November of second-degree murder”. Jackson shot and kill Greer after Greer bumped into him in the night club and they had heated exchange leading to a bar fight. After the club closed Jackson gunned down Greer in the parking-lot. Jackson was known in the community as a trouble maker, and a crime seeker with no what seemed like no remorse. A personal interview with a close friend of the victim, Greer was conducted. Further research of the crime and trial told us, Jamarcus Jackson, was convicted by a Washington County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder, misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, for which he is serving an effective forty years.

This case was closed, Jackson later applied for an appeal that is still under review. Researching the victim to see if he may have had deviant methods behind bumping into Jackson that night lead to nothing. According to many reports, one such as the Bristol Herald Courier states “Friends, co-workers describe him as genuine, good-natured person”. Greer was a former basketball player and student at King University. Finding no deviant behavior on the side of the victim makes this a truly sad case.

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The study of criminology is an accumulation of centuries of ideas, and beliefs. The norms and laws of various societies coming together with research and ideas to help understand and hopefully deter crime in society. Classical criminology dominated in the 18th-century, philosopher Beccaria is known to be the father of classical criminology. It emerged in response to the cruel forms of punishment that dominated at the time. Its influence extends into present day works on crime and economics and on deterrence, as properly as into the rational preference perspective. As we learned in class the classical criminology approach is based on free-will, as well as rationalistic hedonism. Void’s Theoretical Criminology says, “Beccaria proposed a simple model of human choice that was based on the rational calculation of costs and benefits”. Beccaria also believed that it was better to prevent the crime than to punish it. Thus, the assumption that individuals seem to make rational choices between opportunities to increase their own benefit. However, some criminologists argue that offenders are not rational, nor that crime is not in their self-interest. Rather, these criminologists believe offenders engage in crime because of forces beyond their control. They also believe the offender often suffers greatly because of their behavior.

As learned in class we also know that classical criminology was found to be based off 3 assumptions,

  1. Every human has free will
  2. Pain and pleasure can affect criminal behavior
  3. Fear of punishment can deter crime.

Also, that punishment was a good way to show potential offenders what would happen to them if they behaved in a criminal way. One of the most influential elements of the three was however, people have free will. This lead to the Rational choice theory. Research suggested that “For rational choice theorists, a criminal rationally chooses the crime to commit and the target of crime. This indicates even today’s society still takes a rational approach based off the classical criminology theory. Many criminologists then and now did and still do question the “why” and “what” of the criminal’s behavior. Why they chose to commit the crime, why they make the choices they do, what lead them to this life style, and what factors could have changed the path that lead them here whether it be psychological, biological, or circumstantial. Thus, leading us to how classical criminology lead us from the 18th century to present day.

Application Many criminology experts have contributed to development of the classical criminology theory to make the stand relevant to the ever-growing demanding situations surrounding the sphere. Classical criminology tells us that people are of their own free will, Jackson could be the creator of his own faith concerning the shooting and murder of Greer. Crime can be an appealing and seductive feeling to many individuals; and opens the door of opportunity, perhaps this is what lead Jackson to his choice. Classical criminology and rational choice theory leads us to understand humans may also rationally select crime as it gratifies them with a psychological and social benefit, as well help with issues going on in their life. Jackson could have walked away once the club closed and let it altercation between the two simply be end at an idiotic bar brawl, rather than securing him a room in prison for the next 40 years. What leads one to murder can vary, according to The Economist, “the mix of causes in each country is unique but, in every case, rapid, chaotic urbanization makes the problem worse. ” It can be gang related, drugs, hate crime, insanity, or in this case a simple bumping into another individual at a night club.


In conclusion, how much criminal conduct is controllable and correctable is dictated by many associating factors none of which alone can clarify the deviant wrongdoing and the decision to commit the crime. Comparing the theory to the crime brings forward that the notion that criminal regulation must minimize the value of crime and show us that some criminals are of their own free will. Jackson did take his own free will in his hands. How could the outcome had been different that night using classical criminology could fall under the approach of making the punishment outweighing his benefit. His benefit would be in his mind “getting even” for making him look small or weak in the club, the punishment could had been harder by removing Jackson from the club right away. Taking the young man out of the bar right after the altercation was broken up. As shown in the Johnson city news article we gain understanding that Jackson had a background of criminal deviance. Thus, leading one to wonder if Jackson was born deviant or lead into a lifestyle of crime.

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