The College of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Florida State University defines radical criminology as a branch of conflict theory. This branch is based in the Marxist philosophy that states that the power structure of capitalist societies is controlled by an elite few, while the rest of the population is in servitude. Radical criminology extends this belief to the criminal justice system.
Florida State University further explains that although Karl Marx himself never spoke directly about the nature of the criminal justice system, radical criminology is still a natural extension of his theories. Radical criminologists believe that the police are serving the needs of the elite few, or the bourgeoisie, at the expense of the majority, or the proletariat.
Radical criminology is often known as critical criminology which, as explained by the website Critical Criminology, exists to make local governments aware of the ways in which they violate their own principles to perpetuate the economic objectives of a capitalist society. The site also explains that the discipline of critical or radical criminology exists to make governments aware of various crimes they commit against human rights and even national laws, whether by explicit action or refusal to uphold the law in an objective manner.