Origins of criminology

Criminology, as a field of study, has been the subject of debate regarding its origins and development over time. The lack of consensus in scholarly circles about the emergence of criminology according to scientific standards is due to the diversity of criteria and reports that attempt to place it in time and space. In the contemporary context, criminology has undergone a prolonged evolution, often characterized by irreconcilable theoretical conflicts, known as “school disputes.” Despite the recent existence of criminology as an autonomous science, its extensive past and pre-scientific phase are undeniable. To delineate this pre-scientific period, it is crucial to determine the moment when criminology acquired the status of an autonomous science.

Numerous scholars point to Cesare Lombroso as the founder of modern criminology, highlighting the publication of his work “The Criminal Man” in 1876. However, others attribute this merit to figures like the French anthropologist Paul Topinard, who is said to have first used the term “criminology” in 1879, or to Rafael Garófalo, who used it in 1885. Furthermore, it is argued that the Classical School, led by Francesco Carrara, laid the foundations of criminological thought with his Criminal Law Program in 1859. It is relevant to note that the thought of the Classical School, influenced by the liberal and humanist ideas of Cesare Bonesana, the Marquis of Beccaria, emerged in the second half of the 19th century.

From a non-biological perspective, Adolphe Quetelet, a prominent member of the Cartographic School, made significant contributions to early criminology with his statistical analysis of crime, including pioneering studies on the “dark figures of crime.” Alphonse Bertillon, a French criminologist and police officer, established the first criminal identification laboratory based on judicial anthropometry. His system, known as the Bertillon system, became a widely adopted method of identification in Europe and the United States until 1970.

The Bertillon system was succeeded by the Argentine fingerprint identification system developed by Juan Vucetich, considered the father of Dactyloscopy. This transition marks a milestone in the evolution of criminal identification techniques.

In summary, criminology has experienced a complex and diverse development throughout history, influenced by a variety of thinkers and thought currents. The discussion on the origin of modern criminology reflects the richness and complexity of this field of study, as well as its continuous evolution in response to contemporary challenges.