January 9, 2014

Criminology and Reform in the Early 20th Century

Michele Pifferi, University of Ferrara, Faculty of Law, has published Global Criminology and National Tradition. The Impact of Reform Movements on Criminal Systems at the Beginning of the 20th Century in Entanglements in Legal History: Conceptual Approaches (Thomas Duve, ed.; Max Planck INstitute for European Legal History Open Access Publications, 2013).

This article focuses on the international movement towards individualization of punishment between the 1870s and the 1930s as a model to study how legal theories developed in a global scientific dialogue have been differently shaped according to national traditions. Even if interpreted in different ways, the common idea shared by prison reformers, exponents of the new criminological science and a large part of public opinion in Europe, United States and Latin America necessitated a radical change from repression to prevention. The main focus shifted from crime as an abstract entity to criminals as natural, social human beings immersed in a complex network of environmental, social, economic conditions which affected their behavior. Nonetheless, the ‘criminological wave’ between the 1880s and the 1930s was not a uniform international parenthesis, but reflected in its variety the differences between American and European legal cultures and their notion of the principle of legality.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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