The Full Wiki

Criminology: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scale of justice.svg
Criminology and Penology
Chicago School · Classical School
Conflict Criminology
Environmental Criminology
Feminist School · Frankfurt School
Integrative Criminology
Italian School · Left Realism
Marxist Criminology
Neo-Classical School
Positivist School
Postmodernist School
Right Realism
Criminal justice portal
See also Wikibooks:Social Deviance

Criminology (from Latin crīmen, "accusation"; and Greek -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of the nature, extent, causes, and control of criminal behavior in both the individual and in society. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in the behavioral sciences, drawing especially upon the research of sociologists (particularly in the sociology of deviance) and psychologists, as well as on writings in law. Areas of research in criminology include the incidence, forms, causes and consequences of crime, as well as social and governmental regulations and reaction to crime. For studying the distribution and causes of crime, criminology mainly relies upon quantitative methods. The term criminology was coined in 1885 by Italian law professor Raffaele Garofalo as criminologia. Around the same time, French anthropologist Paul Topinard used the analogous French term criminologie.[1]


Schools of thought

In the mid-18th century, criminology arose as social philosophers gave thought to crime and concepts of law. Over time, several schools of thought have developed.

Classical School

The Classical School, which developeshit the mid 18th century, was based on utilitarian philosophy. Cesare Beccaria, author of On Crimes and Punishments (1763-64), Jeremy Bentham, inventor of the panopticon, and other classical school philosophers argued that (1) people have free will to choose how to act. (2) Deterrence is based upon the notion of the human being as a 'hedonist' who seeks pleasure and avoids pain, and a 'rational calculator' weighing up the costs and benefits of the consequences of each action. Thus, it ignores the possibility of irrationality and unconscious drives as motivational factors (3) Punishment (of sufficient severity) can deter people from crime, as the costs (penalties) outweigh benefits, and that severity of punishment should be proportionate to the crime.[2] (4) The more swift and certain the punishment, the more effective it is in deterring criminal behavior. The Classical school of thought came about at a time when major reform in penology occurred, with prisons developed as a form of punishment. Also, this time period saw many legal reforms, the French Revolution, and the development of the legal system in the United States.

Positivist School

The Positivist school presumes that criminal behavior is caused by internal and external factors outside of the individual's control. The scientific method was introduced and applied to study human behavior. Positivism can be broken up into three segments which include biological, psychological and social positivism.

Italian School

Cesare Lombroso, an Italian prison doctor working in the late 19th century and sometimes regarded as the "father" of criminology, was one of the largest contributors to biological positivism and founder of the Italian school of criminology.[3] Lombroso took a scientific approach, insisting on empirical evidence, for studying crime.[4] Considered as the founder of criminal anthropology, he suggested that physiological traits such as the measurements of one's cheek bones or hairline, or a cleft palate, considered to be throwbacks to Neanderthal man, were indicative of "atavistic" criminal tendencies. This approach, influenced by the earlier theory of phrenology and by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, has been superseded. Enrico Ferri, a student of Lombroso, believed that social as well as biological factors played a role, and held the view that criminals should not be held responsible when factors causing their criminality were beyond their control. Criminologists have since rejected Lombroso's biological theories, with control groups not used in his studies.[5]

Lacassagne School

Lombroso's Italian school was rivaled, in France, by Alexandre Lacassagne and his school of thought, based in Lyon and influential from 1885 to 1914.[6] The Lacassagne School rejected Lombroso's theory of "criminal type" and of "born criminals", and strained the importance of social factors. However, contrary to criminological tendencies influenced by Durkheim's social determinism, it did not reject biological factors. Indeed, Lacassagne created an original synthesis of both tendencies, influenced by positivism, phrenology and hygienism, which alleged a direct influence of the social environment on the brain and compared the social itself to a brain, upholding an organicist position.[6] Furthermore, Lacassagne criticized the lack of efficiency of prison, insisted on social responsibilities toward crime and on political voluntarism as a solution to crime, and thus advocated harsh penalties for those criminals thought to be unredeemable ("recidivists") for example by supporting the 1895 law on penal colonies or opposing the abolition of the death penalty in 1906.[6]

Hans Eysenck (1964, 1977), a British psychologist, claimed that psychological factors such as extraversion and neuroticism made a person more likely to commit criminal acts. He also includes a psychoticism dimension that includes traits similar to the psychopathic profile, developed by Hervey M. Cleckley and later Robert Hare. He also based his model on early parental socialization of the child; his approach bridges the gap between biological explanations and environmental or social learning based approaches, (see e.g. social psychologists B.F. Skinner (1938), Albert Bandura (1973), and the topic of "nature vs. nurture".)

Sociological positivism

Sociological positivism postulates that societal factors such as poverty, membership of subcultures, or low levels of education can predispose people to crime. Adolphe Quetelet made use of data and statistical analysis to gain insight into relationship between crime and sociological factors. He found that age, gender, poverty, education, and alcohol consumption were important factors related to crime.[7] Rawson W. Rawson utilized crime statistics to suggest a link between population density and crime rates, with crowded cities creating an environment conducive for crime.[8] Joseph Fletcher and John Glyde also presented papers to the Statistical Society of London on their studies of crime and its distribution.[9] Henry Mayhew used empirical methods and an ethnographic approach to address social questions and poverty, and presented his studies in London Labour and the London Poor.[10] Emile Durkheim viewed crime as an inevitable aspect of society, with uneven distribution of wealth and other differences among people.

Chicago School

It is the concept in which individuals learn to recover from the effects of criminal behaviour and bring about justice in the work of criminology.

The Chicago school arose in the early twentieth century, through the work of Robert E. Park, Ernest Burgess, and other urban sociologists at the University of Chicago. In the 1920s, Park and Burgess identified five concentric zones that often exist as cities grow, including the "zone in transition" which was identified as most volatile and subject to disorder. In the 1940s, Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw focused on juvenile delinquents, finding that they were concentrated in the zone of transition.

Chicago School sociologists adopted a social ecology approach to studying cities, and postulated that urban neighborhoods with high levels of poverty often experience breakdown in the social structure and institutions such as family and schools. This results in social disorganization, which reduces the ability of these institutions to control behavior and creates an environment ripe for deviant behavior.

Other researchers suggested an added social-psychological link. Edwin Sutherland suggested that people learn criminal behavior from older, more experienced criminals that they may associate with.

Theories of crime

Theoretical perspectives used in criminology include psychoanalysis, functionalism, interactionism, Marxism, econometrics, systems theory, postmodernism, etc.

Social structure theories

This theory is applied to a variety of approaches within criminology in particular and in sociology more generally as a conflict theory or structural conflict perspective in sociology and sociology of crime. As this perspective is itself broad enough, embracing as it does a diversity of positions.[11]

Social disorganization (neighborhoods)

Social disorganization theory is based on the work of Henry McKay and Clifford R. Shaw of the Chicago School.[12] Social disorganization theory postulates that neighborhoods plagued with poverty and economic deprivation tend to experience high rates of population turnover.[13] These neighborhoods also tend to have high population heterogeneity.[13] With high turnover, informal social structure often fails to develop, which in turn makes it difficult to maintain social order in a community.

Social ecology

Since the 1950s, social ecology studies have built on the social disorganization theories. Many studies have found that crime rates are associated with poverty, disorder, high numbers of abandoned buildings, and other signs of community deterioration.[13][14] As working and middle class people leave deteriorating neighborhoods, the most disadvantaged portions of the population may remain. William Julius Wilson suggested a poverty "concentration effect", which may cause neighborhoods to be isolated from the mainstream of society and become prone to violence.

Strain theory (social class)

Strain theory, (also known as Mertonian Anomie), advanced by American sociologist Robert Merton, suggests that mainstream culture, especially in the United States, is saturated with dreams of opportunity, freedom and prosperity; as Merton put it, the American Dream. Most people buy into this dream and it becomes a powerful cultural and psychological motivation. Merton also used the term anomie, but it meant something slightly different for him than it did for Durkheim. Merton saw the term as meaning a dichotomy between what society expected of its citizens, and what those citizens could actually achieve. Therefore, if the social structure of opportunities is unequal and prevents the majority from realizing the dream, some of them will turn to illegitimate means (crime) in order to realize it. Others will retreat or drop out into deviant subcultures (gang members, "hobos": urban homeless drunks and drug abusers).[15]..

Subcultural theory

Following on from the Chicago school and Strain Theory, and also drawing on Edwin Sutherland's idea of differential association, subcultural theorists focused on small cultural groups fragmenting away from the mainstream to form their own values and meanings about life.

Albert K. Cohen tied anomie theory with Freud's reaction formation idea, suggesting that delinquency among lower class youths is a reaction against the social norms of the middle class.[16] Some youth, especially from poorer areas where opportunities are scarce, might adopt social norms specific to those places which may include "toughness" and disrespect for authority. Criminal acts may result when youths conform to norms of the deviant subculture.[17]

Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin suggested that delinquency can result from differential opportunity for lower class youth.[18] Such youths may be tempted to take up criminal activities, choosing an illegitimate path that provides them more lucrative economic benefits than conventional, over legal options such as minimum wage-paying jobs available to them.[18]

British subcultural theorists focused more heavily on the issue of class, where some criminal activities were seen as 'imaginary solutions' to the problem of belonging to a subordinate class. A further study by the Chicago school looked at gangs and the influence of the interaction of gang leaders under the observation of adults.

Individual theories

Trait theories

At the other side of the spectrum, criminologist Lonnie Athens developed a theory about how a process of brutalization by parents or peers that usually occurs in childhood results in violent crimes in adulthood. Richard Rhodes' Why They Kill describes Athens' observations about domestic and societal violence in the criminals' backgrounds. Both Athens and Rhodes reject the genetic inheritance theories.[19]

Control theories

Another approach is made by the social bond or social control theory. Instead of looking for factors that make people become criminal, those theories try to explain why people do not become criminal. Travis Hirschi identified four main characteristics: "attachment to others", "belief in moral validity of rules", "commitment to achievement" and "involvement in conventional activities".[20] The more a person features those characteristics, the less are the chances that he or she becomes deviant (or criminal). On the other hand, if those factors are not present in a person, it is more likely that he or she might become criminal. Hirschi expanded on this theory, with the idea that a person with low self control is more likely to become criminal.[21] A simple example: someone wants to have a big yacht, but does not have the means to buy one. If the person cannot exert self-control, he or she might try to get the yacht (or the means for it) in an illegal way; whereas someone with high self-control will (more likely) either wait or deny themselves that need. Social bonds, through peers, parents, and others, can have a countering effect on one's low self-control. For families of low socio-economic status, a factor that distinguishes families with delinquent children from those who are not delinquent is the control exerted by parents or chaperonage.[22]

Symbolic interactionism

Symbolic interactionism draws on the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and George Herbert Mead, as well as subcultural theory and conflict theory.[23] This school of thought focused on the relationship between the powerful state, media and conservative ruling elite on the one hand, and the less powerful groups on the other. The powerful groups had the ability to become the 'significant other' in the less powerful groups' processes of generating meaning. The former could to some extent impose their meanings on the latter, and therefore they were able to 'label' minor delinquent youngsters as criminal. These youngsters would often take on board the label, indulge in crime more readily and become actors in the 'self-fulfilling prophecy' of the powerful groups. Later developments in this set of theories were by Howard Becker and Edwin Lemert, in the mid 20th century.[24] Stanley Cohen who developed the concept of "moral panic" (describing societal reaction to spectacular, alarming social phenomena such as post-World War Two youth cultures (e.g. the Mods and Rockers in the UK in 1964), AIDS and football hooliganism).

Rational choice theory

Rational choice theory is based on the utilitarian, classical school philosophies of Cesare Beccaria, which were popularized by Jeremy Bentham. They argued that punishment, if certain, swift, and proportionate to the crime, was a deterrent for crime, with risks outweighing possible benefits to the offender. In Dei delitti e delle pene (On Crime and Punishment, 1763-1764), Beccaria advocated a rational penology. Beccaria conceived of punishment as the necessary application of the law for a crime: thus, the judge was simply to conform his sentence to the law. Beccaria also distinguished between crime and sin, and advocated against the death penalty, as well as torture and inhumane treatments, as he did not consider them as rational deterrents.

This philosophy was replaced by the Positivist and Chicago Schools, and not revived until the 1970s with the writings of James Q. Wilson, Gary Becker's 1965 article titled "Crime and Punishment"[25] and George Stigler's 1970 article "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws."[26] Rational choice theory argues that criminals, like other people, weigh costs/risks and benefits when deciding whether or not to commit crime and think in economic terms.[27] They will also try to minimize risks of crime by considering the time, place, and other situational factors.[27]

Gary Becker, for example, acknowledged that many people operate under a high moral and ethical constraint, but considered that criminals rationally see that the benefits of their crime outweigh the cost such as the probability of apprehension, conviction, punishment, as well as their current set of opportunities. From the public policy perspective, since the cost of increasing the fine is marginal to that of the cost of increasing surveillance, one can conclude that the best policy is to maximize the fine and minimize surveillance.

With this perspective, crime prevention or reduction measures can be devised that increase effort required to commit the crime, such as target hardening.[28] Rational choice theories also suggest that increasing risk of offending and likelihood of being caught, through added surveillance, police or security guard presence, added street lighting, and other measures, are effective in reducing crime.[28]

One of the main differences between this theory and Jeremy Bentham's rational choice theory, which had been abandoned in criminology, is that if Bentham considered it possible to completely annihilate crime (through the panopticon), Becker's theory acknowledged that a society could not eradicate crime beneath a certain level. For example, if 25% of a supermarket's products were stolen, it would be very easy to reduce this rate to 15%, quite easy to reduce it until 5%, difficult to reduce it under 3% and nearly impossible to reduce it to zero (a feat which would cost the supermarket so much in surveillance, etc., that it would outweight the benefits). This reveals that the goals of utilitarianism and classical liberalism have to be tempered and reduced to more modest proposals to be practically applicable.

Such rational choice theories, linked to neoliberalism, have been at the basics of crime prevention through environmental design.

Routine activity theory

Routine activity theory, developed by Marcus Felson and Lawrence Cohen, draws upon control theories and explains crime in terms of crime opportunities that occur in everyday life.[29] A crime opportunity requires that elements converge in time and place including (1) a motivated offender (2) suitable target or victim (3) lack of a capable guardian.[30] A guardian at a place, such as a street, could include security guards or even ordinary pedestrians who would witness the criminal act and possibly intervene or report it to police.[30] Routine activity theory was expanded by John Eck, who added a fourth element of "place manager" such as rental property managers who can take nuisance abatement measures.[31]

Contemporary Cultural and Critical Criminology

Today's cultural and critical criminologists[32] define themselves through the opposition to rational choice-inspired theories, which they perceive to rest on an ontologically simplistic conception of human beings as hedonistic opportunists whose behaviour can be manipulated by adjustments of costs, benefits, opportunities and technologies of control.

Early romantic accounts of crime/delinquency as a form of seduction[33] or proto-political resistance to the powerlessness and dull monotony of working life[34] are now being challenged by late-modern hybrid theories. These theories examine the ways in which criminals are incorporated into consumerism's value-system and fantasies, as argued by Robert Reiner in his book Law and Order[35], yet initially excluded in their economic and social lives. Combining elements of strain theory with cultural theory and symbolic interactionism, Jock Young, in The Exclusive Society[36], uses the metaphor of bulimia to depict the tense opposition between inclusion and exclusion. Simon Hallsworth and Keith Hayward adopt a similar approach in their respective works Street Crime[37] and City Limits[38], and in further work[39] Hayward reintroduces the Freudian term 'narcissism' to explain the insecure yet aggressive, acquisitive sentiments and motivations behind criminality. In Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture[40], Steve Hall, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum draw upon Continental philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis to take late-modern hybrid theories to a new level of sophistication as they explain how the dynamic tension between inclusion and exclusion prolongs the narcissistic subject throughout the life-course in an aggressive struggle for identities of social distinction expressed by the acquisition and display of consumer culture's status-symbols.

Types and definitions of crime

Both the Positivist and Classical Schools take a consensus view of crime — that a crime is an act that violates the basic values and beliefs of society. Those values and beliefs are manifested as laws that society agrees upon. However, there are two types of laws:

  • Natural laws are rooted in core values shared by many cultures. Natural laws protect against harm to persons (e.g. murder, rape, assault) or property (theft, larceny, robbery), and form the basis of common law systems.
  • Statutes are enacted by legislatures and reflect current cultural mores, albeit that some laws may be controversial, e.g. laws that prohibit cannabis use and gambling. Marxist criminology, Conflict criminology and Critical Criminology claim that most relationships between state and citizen are non-consensual and, as such, criminal law is not necessarily representative of public beliefs and wishes: it is exercised in the interests of the ruling or dominant class. The more right wing criminologies tend to posit that there is a consensual social contract between State and citizen.

Therefore, definitions of crimes will vary from place to place, in accordance to the cultural norms and mores, but may be broadly classified as blue-collar crime, corporate crime, organized crime, political crime, public order crime, state crime, state-corporate crime, and white-collar crime.


Areas of study in criminology include:

Comparative criminology is the study of the social phenomenon of crime across cultures, to identify differences and similarities in crime patterns.[41]

See also



  1. ^ Deflem, Mathieu (2006). Sociological Theory and Criminological Research: Views from Europe and the United States. Elsevier. pp. p. 279. ISBN 0762313226. 
  2. ^ Beccaria, Cesare (1764). Richard Davies, translator. ed. On Crimes and Punishments, and Other Writings. Cambridge University Press. pp. p. 64. ISBN 0521402034. 
  3. ^ Siegel, Larry J. (2003). Criminology, 8th edition. Thomson-Wadsworth. pp. p. 7. 
  4. ^ McLennan, Gregor, Jennie Pawson, Mike Fitzgerald (1980). Crime and Society: Readings in History and Theory. Routledge. pp. p. 311. ISBN 0415027551. 
  5. ^ Siegel, Larry J. (2003). Criminology, 8th edition. Thomson-Wadsworth. pp. p. 139. 
  6. ^ a b c Renneville, Marc. La criminologie perdue d’Alexandre Lacassagne (1843-1924), Criminocorpus, Centre Alexandre Koyré-CRHST, UMR n°8560 of the CNRS, 2005 (French)
  7. ^ Beirne, Piers (March 1987). "Adolphe Quetelet and the Origins of Positivist Criminology". American Journal of Sociology 92(5): pp. 1140–1169. 
  8. ^ Hayward, Keith J. (2004). City Limits: Crime, Consumerism and the Urban Experience. Routledge. pp. p. 89. ISBN 1904385036. 
  9. ^ Garland, David (2002). "Of Crimes and Criminals". in Maguire, Mike, Rod Morgan, Robert Reiner. The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, 3rd edition. Oxford University Press. pp. p. 21. 
  10. ^ "Henry Mayhew: London Labour and the London Poor". Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science. 
  11. ^ Hester, S., Eglin, P. 1992, A Sociology of Crime, London, Routledge.
  12. ^ Shaw, Clifford R. and McKay, Henry D. (1942). Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas. The University of Chicago Press. 
  13. ^ a b c Bursik Jr., Robert J. (1988). "Social Disorganization and Theories of Crime and Delinquency: Problems and Prospects". Criminology 26: p. 519–539. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.1988.tb00854.x. 
  14. ^ Morenoff, Jeffrey, Robert Sampson, Stephen Raudenbush (2001). "Neighborhood Inequality, Collective Efficacy and the Spatial Dynamics of Urban Violence". Criminology 39: p. 517–60. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2001.tb00932.x. 
  15. ^ Merton, Robert (1957). Social Theory and Social Structure. Free Press. 
  16. ^ Cohen, Albert (1955). Delinquent Boys. Free Press. 
  17. ^ Kornhauser, R. (1978). Social Sources of Delinquency. University of Chicago Press. 
  18. ^ a b Cloward, Richard, Lloyd Ohlin (1960). Delinquency and Opportunity. Free Press. 
  19. ^ Rhodes, Richard (2000). Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist. Vintage. 
  20. ^ Hirschi, Travis (1969). Causes of Delinquency. Transaction Publishers. 
  21. ^ Gottfredson, M., T. Hirschi (1990). A General Theory of Crime. Stanford University Press. 
  22. ^ Wilson, Harriet (1980). "Parental Supervision: A Neglected Aspect of Delinquency". British Journal of Criminology 20. 
  23. ^ Mead, George Herbert (1934). Mind Self and Society. University of Chicago Press. 
  24. ^ Becker, Howard (1963). Outsiders. Free Press. 
  25. ^ Gary Becker, "Crime and Punishment", in Journal of Political Economy, vol. 76 (2), March-April 1968, p.196-217
  26. ^ George Stigler, "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws", in Journal of Political Economy, vol.78 (3), May-June 1970, p.526-536
  27. ^ a b Cornish, Derek, and Ronald V. Clarke (1986). The Reasoning Criminal. Springer-Verlag. 
  28. ^ a b Clarke, Ronald V. (1992). Situational Crime Prevention. Harrow and Heston. 
  29. ^ Felson, Marcus (1994). Crime and Everyday Life. Pine Forge. 
  30. ^ a b Cohen, Lawrence, and Marcus Felson (1979). "Social Change and Crime Rate Trends". American Sociological Review 44: 588. doi:10.2307/2094589. 
  31. ^ Eck, John, and Julie Wartell (1997). Reducing Crime and Drug Dealing by Improving Place Management: A Randomized Experiment. National Institute of Justice. 
  32. ^ Ferrell, J., Hayward, K., Morrison, W. and Presdee, M. (2004) Cultural Criminology Unleashed, London: Glasshouse Press
  33. ^ Katz, J. (1988), The Seductions of Crime, New York: Basic Books
  34. ^ Presdee, M. (2000), Cultural Criminology and the Carnival of Crime, London: Routledge
  35. ^ Reiner, R. (2007) Law and Order, Cambridge: Polity
  36. ^ Young, J. (1999), The Exclusive Society, London: Sage
  37. ^ Hallsworth, S. (2005), Street Crime, Cullompton: Willan
  38. ^ Hayward, K. (2004), City Limits, London: Glasshouse
  39. ^ Hayward, K. and Yar, M. (2006), ‘The ‘Chav’ Phenomenon: Consumption, Media and the Construction of a New Underclass’, in Crime, Media, Culture, Vol. 2, 1: 9-28
  40. ^ Hall, S., Winlow, S. and Ancrum, C. (2008) Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture, Cullompton: Willan
  41. ^ Barak-Glantz, I.L., E.H. Johnson (1983). Comparative criminology. Sage. 


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CRIMINOLOGY, the name given to a new branch of social science, devoted to the discussion of the genesis of crime, which has received much attention in recent years. The expression is one of modern coinage, and originated with the speculative theories first advanced by the school of sociologists which had the Italian savant, Professor Lombroso, at its head. He discovered or was supposed to have discovered a criminal type, the "instinctive" or "born" criminal, a creature who had come into the world predestined to evil deeds, and who could be surely recognized by certain stigmata, certain facial, physical, even moral birthmarks, the possession of which, presumably ineradicable, foredoomed him to the commission of crime. Dr Lombroso, in his ingenious work L' Uomo delinquente, found many attentive and appreciative, not to say bigoted followers. Large numbers of dissentients exist, however, and the conclusions of the Italian school have been warmly contested and on very plausible grounds. If the doctrines be fully accepted the whole theory of free-will breaks down, and we are faced with the paradox that we have no right to punish an irresponsible being who is impelled to crime by congenital causes, entirely beyond his control. The "instinctive" criminal, under this reasoning, must be classed with the lunatic whom we cannot justly, and practically never do, punish. There are other points on which proof of the existence of the criminal type fails absolutely. The whole theory illustrates a modern phase of psychological doctrine, and the subject has exercised such a potent effect on modern thought that the claims and pretensions of the Lombroso school must be examined and disposed of.

The alleged discovery of the "born-criminal" as a separate and distinct genus of the human species was first published by Dr Lombroso in 1876 as the result of long continued investigation and examination of a number of imprisoned criminals. The personality of this human monster was to be recognized by certain inherent moral and physical traits, not all displayed by the same individual but generally appearing in conjunction and then constituting the type. These traits have been defined as follows: various brain and cerebral anomalies; receding foreheads; massive jaws, prognathous chins; skulls without symmetry; ears long, large and projecting (the ear ad ansa); noses rectilinear, wrinkles strongly marked, even in the young and in both sexes, hair abundant on the head, scanty on the cheeks and chin; eyes feline, fixed, cold, glassy, ferocious; bad repellent faces. Much stress is laid upon the physiognomy, and it is said that it is independent of nationality; two natives of the same country do not so nearly resemble each other as two criminals of different countries. Other peculiarities are: - great width of the extended arms (l'envergure of the French), extraordinary ape-like agility; left-handedness as well as ambi-dexterism; obtuse sense of smell, taste and sometimes of hearing, although the eyesight is superior to that of normal people. "In general," to quote Lombroso, "the born criminal has projecting ears, thick Foreign as Constitutio Criminalis Carolina. Austria made hair and thin beard, projecting frontal eminences, enormous jaws, a square and protruding chin, large cheek bones and frequent gesticulation." So much for the anatomical and physiological peculiarities of the criminal. There remain the psychological or mental characteristics, so far as they have been observed. Moral insensibility is attributed to him, a dull conscience that never pricks and a general freedom from remorse. He is said to be generally lacking in intelligence, hence his stupidity, the want of proper precautions, both before and after an offence,which leads so often to his detection and capture. His vanity is strongly marked and shown in the pride taken in infamous achievements rather than personal appearance.

No sooner was this new theory made public than the very existence of the supposed type was questioned and more evidence demanded. A French savant declared that Lombroso's portraits were very similar to the photographs of his friends. Save for the dirt, the recklessness, the weariness and the misery so often seen on it,the face of the criminal does not differ from that of an honest man's. It was pointed out that if certain traits denoted the criminal, the converse should be seen in the honest man. A pertinent objection was that the deductions had been made from insufficient premises. The criminologists had worked upon a comparatively small number of criminals, and yet made their discoveries applicable to the whole class. The facts were collected from too small an area and no definite conclusions could be based upon them. Moreover, the criminologists were by no means unanimous. They differed amongst themselves and often contradicted one another as to the characteristics exhibited.

The controversy was long maintained. Many eminent persons have been arrayed on either side. In Italy Lombroso was supported by Colajanni, Ferri, Garofalo; in France by J. A. Lacassagne. In Germany Lombroso has found few followers; Dr Naecke of Hubertusburg near Leipzig, one of the most eminent of German alienists, declined to admit there was any special animal type. Van Hamel of Amsterdam gives only a qualified approval. In England it stands generally condemned, because it gives no importance to circumstance and passing temptation, or to domestic or social environment, as affecting the causation of crime. Dr Nicholson of Broadmoor has said that "if the criminal is such by predestination, heredity or accidental flaws or anomalies in brain or physical structure, he is such for good and all; no cure is possible, all the plans and processes for his betterment, education, moral training and disciplinary treatment are nugatory and vain." No weight can then be attached to evil example, or unfavourable social surroundings, in moulding and forming character, particularly during the more plastic periods of childhood and youth.

The pertinent question remains, has the study and development of criminology served any useful purpose? Little perhaps can come of it in its restricted sense, but it has taken a wider meaning and embraces larger researches. It has inquired into the sources and causes of crime, it has collected criminal statistics and deduced valuable lessons from them, it has sought and obtained guidance in the best methods of prevention, repression, and forms of procedure. The champions of law and order have been greatly aided by the criminologist in carrying on the continual combat with crime, and in dealing with the most complicated of social phenomena. The new science has, in fact, by accumulating a number of curious details, in recording the psychology, the secret desires, the springs of the criminal's nefarious actions, his corrigibility or the reverse, "prepared the way to his sociological explanation" (Tarde). Thanks to the labours of the criminologist we are moving steadily forward to a future improved treatment of the criminal, and may thus arrive at the increased morality and greater safety of society. Very appreciable advance has been made in the increased attention paid to juvenile and adult crime, the acceptance of the theory, now well established, that there is an especially criminal age, a period when the moral fibre is weaker and more yielding to temptation to crime, when happily human nature is more malleable and susceptible to improvement and reform.

The study of criminology has, however, gone far to satisfy us that the true genesis of crime is not to be sought in the anatomical anomalies of individuals, or in the fact that there are people who under "any social conditions whatever and of any nationality at no matter what epoch, would have undoubtedly become murderers and thieves." On the contrary it may be safely assumed that many such would have done no wrong if they had, e.g., been born rich, had been free from the pressing needs that drove them into crime, and had escaped the evil influences of their surroundings. The criminologists have strengthened the hands of administrators, have emphasized the paramount importance of child-rescue and judicious direction of adults, have held the balance between penal methods, advocating the moralizing effect of open-air labour as opposed to prolonged isolation, and have insisted upon the desirability of indefinite detention for all who have obstinately determined to wage perpetual war against society by the persistent perpetration of crime.

AUTH ORITIES. - See A. Weingart, Kriminaltaktik, ein Handbuch fiir das Untersuchen von Verbrechen (Leipzig, 1904); F. H. Wines, Punishment and Reformation (New York, 1895); C. Perrier, Les Criminels (Paris, 1905); G. Mace, Femmes criminelles (Paris, 1904); E. Carpenter, Prisons, Police and Punishment (1905); R. R. Rentoul, Proposed Sterilization of certain Mental and Physical Degenerates p (1904); R. Sommer, Kriminalpsychologie and strafrechtliche Psychoathologie auf naturwissenschaftlicher Grundlage (Leipzig, 1904); F. Kitzinger, Die internationale kriminalistische Vereinigung (1905); Reports of Committee on the best mode of giving efficiency to Secondary Punishments (1831-1832); Reports of the House of Commons Committee of 1853, of the royal commission of 1884, of the departmental committee of 1895, and the annual reports of H. M. inspectors for Great Britain and Ireland. (A. G.)

<< Criminal law

Crimmitzschau >>

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address