Source: (2002) Theoretical Criminology. 6(3): 243-253.

Emotions remain a somewhat peripheral topic within theoretical criminology. Approaching crime, punishment, and social control from an emotional point of view may enrich criminological research and reflection. The dominant theories of crime--control theory, routine activities theory, and rational choice theory--assume offender motivation, but fail to understand how and why people are animated to commit crimes. The inability to understand what motivates offenders impairs both academic and public discourse about crime and justice. The affective dimensions of criminal behavior need to be taken into account. Perpetrators of crime are moral subjects striving reflexively to give meaning to their actions before, during, and after the crime. The law demands that judges do not openly show any sign of bias concerning the guilt or innocence of the accused, something that requires emotions to be kept under tight rein during the course of the trial. Legal institutions have become more attuned to the claims for recognition made by angry or traumatized victims. Citizens have issued impassioned demands for order. Emotions have become implicated in the volatile and contradictory nature of late modern penality. This is evident in the return of old penal practices, such as boot camps, sex offender notification, and zero tolerance. Programs in restorative justice have helped accord emotions, shame in particular, a more central place within the criminal justice arena. Emotion has also been accorded a central place in recent sociological theorizing at both micro and macro levels. Debate persists within and across disciplines about what emotions are.