Criminal Sociology
by Enrico Ferri
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse







The following pages are a translation of that portion of Professor
Ferri's volume on Criminal Sociology which is immediately
concerned with the practical problems of criminality. The Report
of the Government committee appointed to inquire into the
treatment of habitual drunkards, the Report of the committee of
inquiry into the best means of identifying habitual criminals, the
revision of the English criminal returns, the Reports of
committees appointed to inquire into the administration of prisons
and the best methods of dealing with habitual offenders, vagrants,
beggars, inebriate and juvenile delinquents, are all evidence of
the fact that the formidable problem of crime is again pressing
its way to the front and demanding re-examination at the hands of
the present generation. The real dimensions of the question, as
Professor Ferri points out, are partially hidden by the
superficial interpretations which are so often placed upon the
returns relating to crime. If the population of prisons or
penitentiaries should happen to be declining, this is immediately
interpreted to mean that crime is on the decrease. And
yet a cursory examination of the facts is sufficient to show that
a decrease in the prison population is merely the result of
shorter sentences and the substitution of fines or other similar
penalties for imprisonment. If the list of offences for trial
before a judge and jury should exhibit any symptoms of diminution,
this circumstance is immediately seized upon as a proof that the
criminal population is declining, and yet the diminution may
merely arise from the fact that large numbers of cases which used
to be tried before a jury are now dealt with summarily by a
magistrate. In other words, what we witness is a change of
judicial procedure, but not necessarily a decrease of crime.
Again, when it is pointed out that the number of persons for trial
for indictable offences in England and Wales amounted to 53,044 in
1874-8 and 56,472 in 1889-93, we are at a loss to see what colour
these figures give to the statement that there has been a real and
substantial decrease of crime. The increase, it is true, may not
be keeping pace with the growth of the general population, but, as
an eminent judge recently stated from the bench, this is to be
accounted for by the fact that the public is every year becoming
more lenient and more unwilling to prosecute. But an increase of
leniency, however excellent in itself, is not to be confounded
with a decrease of crime. In the study of social phenomena our
paramount duty is to look at facts and not appearances.

But whether criminality is keeping pace with the growth of
population or not it is a problem of great magnitude all
the same, and it will not be solved, as Professor Ferri points
out, by a mere resort to punishments of greater rigour and
severity. On this matter he is at one with the Scotch
departmental committee appointed to inquire into the best means of
dealing with habitual offenders, vagrants, and juveniles. As far
as the suppression of vagrancy is concerned the members of the
committee are unanimously of opinion that "the severest
enactments of the general law are futile, and that the best
results have been obtained by the milder provisions of more recent
statutes.'' They also speak of the "utter inadequacy of the
present system in all the variety of detail which it offers to
deter the habitual offender from a course of life which devolves
the cost of his maintenance on the prison and the poorhouse when
he is not preying directly on the public.'' The committee state
that they have had testimony from a large number of witnesses
supporting the view that "long sentences of imprisonment effect
no good result,'' and they arrive at the conclusion that to double
the present sentences would not diminish the number of habitual
offenders. In this conclusion they are at one with the views of
the Royal Commission on Penal Servitude, which acquiesced in the
objection to the penal servitude system on the ground that it
"not only fails to reform offenders, but in the case of the less
hardened criminals and especially first offenders produces a
deteriorating effect.'' A similar opinion was recently expressed
by the Prisons Committee presided over by Mr. Herbert Gladstone.
As soon as punishment reaches a point at which it makes
men worse than they were before, it becomes useless as an
instrument of reformation or social defence.

The proper method of arriving at a more or less satisfactory
solution of the criminal problem is to inquire into the causes
which are producing the criminal population, and to institute
remedies based upon the results of such an inquiry. Professor
Ferri's volume has this object in view. The first chanter, on the
data of Criminal Anthropology, is an inquiry into the individual
conditions which tend to produce criminal habits of mind and
action. The second chapter, on the data of criminal statistics,
is an examination of the adverse social conditions which tend to
drive certain sections of the population into crime. It is
Professor Ferri's contention that the volume of crime will not be
materially diminished by codes of criminal law however skilfully
they may be constructed, but by an amelioration of the adverse
individual and social conditions of the community as a whole.
Crime is a product of these adverse conditions, and the only
effective way of grappling with it is to do away as far as
possible with the causes from which it springs. Although criminal
codes can do comparatively little towards the reduction of crime,
they are absolutely essential for the protection of society.
Accordingly, the last chapter, on Practical Reforms, is intended
to show how criminal law and prison administration may be made
more effective for purposes of social defence.

W. D. M.



Origin of Criminal Sociology, —Origin of Criminal Anthropology,
—Methods of Criminal Anthropology, —Relation between Criminal
Anthropology and Criminal Sociology, —Criminal Anthropology
studies the organic and mental constitution of the criminal, —
The criminal skull and brain, —Criminal physiognomy, —Physical
insensibility among criminals, —Criminal heredity, —Criminal
psychology, —Moral insensibility among criminals, —The
criminal mind. II. The data of criminal anthropology only
applies to the habitual or congenital criminal, —The occasional
and habitual criminal, —Comparison between the criminal and
non-criminal skull, —Anomalies in the criminal skull, —The
habitual criminal, —The crimes of habitual criminals, —The
criminal type confined to habitual criminals, —The proportion
of habitual criminals in the criminal population, —Forms of
habitual criminality, —Forms of occasional criminality, —
Classification of criminals, —Criminal lunatics, —Moral
insanity, —Born criminals, —Criminals by acquired habit,
—Criminal precocity, —Nature of juvenile crime, —Relapsed
criminals, —Precocity and relapse among criminals,
—Criminals of passion, —Occasional criminals, —Differences
between the occasional and the born criminal, —Criminal types shade
into each other, —Numbers of several classes of criminals, —
Value of a proper classification of criminals, —A fourfold



Value of criminal statistics, —The three factors of crime, —
Anthropological factors, —Physical factors, —Social factors,
—Crime a product of complex conditions, —Social conditions
do not explain crime, —Effects of temperature on crime, —
Crime a result of biological as well as social conditions, —The
measures to be taken against crime are of two kinds, preventive
and eliminative, —The fluctuations of crime chiefly produced by
social causes, —Steadiness of the graver forms of crime, —
Effect of judicial procedure on criminal statistics, —Crimes
against the person are high when crimes against property are low,
—Is crime increasing or decreasing? —Official optimism in
criminal statistics, —Density of population and crime, —
Conditions on which the fluctuations of crime depend, —
Quetelet's law of the mechanical regularity of crime, —The
effect of environment on crime, —The effect of punishment on
crime, —The value of punishment is over-estimated, —
Statistical proofs of this, —Biological and sociological
proofs, —Crime is diminished by prevention not by repression,
—Legislators and administrators rely too much on repression,
—The basis of the belief in punishment,—Natural and legal
punishment, —The discipline of consequences, —The
uncertainty of legal punishment, —Want of foresight among
criminals, —Penal codes cannot alter invincible tendencies,
—Force is no remedy, —Negative value of punishment.
II. Substitutes for punishment, —The elimination of the causes
of crime, —Economic remedies for crime, —Drink and crime,
—Drunkenness an effect of bad social conditions, —Taxation
of drink, —Laws against drink, —Social amelioration a
substitute for penal law, —
Social legislation and crime, —Political amelioration as a
preventive of crime, —Decentralisation a preventive, —
Legal and administrative preventives, —Prisoners' Aid
Societies, —Education and crime, —Popular entertainments
and crime, —Physical education as a remedy for crime, —To
diminish crime its causes must be eliminated, —The aim and
scope of penal substitutes, —Difficulty of applying penal
substitutes, —Difference between social and police prevention,
—Limited efficacy of punishment, —Summary of conclusions.



Criminal sociology and penal legislation, —Classification
of punishments, —The reform of criminal procedure, —The
two principles of judicial procedure, —Principles
determining the nature of the sentence, —Present principles of
penal procedure a reaction against mediaeval abuses, —The
"presumption of innocence,'' —The verdict of "Not Proven,''
—The right of appeal, —A second trial, —Reparation to
the victims of crime, —Need for a Ministry of Justice, —
Public and private prosecutors, —The growing tendency to drop
criminal charges, —The tendency to minimise the official
returns of crime, —Roman penal law, —Revision of judicial
errors, —Reparation to persons wrongly convicted, —
Provision of funds for this purpose, —Reparation to persons
wrongly prosecuted, —Many criminal offences should be tried as
civil offences, —The object of a criminal trial. II. The
crime and the criminal, —The stages of a criminal trial, —
The evidence, —Anthropological evidence, —The utilisation
of hypnotism, —Psychological and psycho-pathological evidence,
—The credibility of witnesses, —Expert evidence, —An
advocate of the poor, —The judge and his qualifications, —
Civil and criminal judges should be distinct functionaries,
—The student of law should study criminals, —Training of
police and prison officers, —The status of the criminal judge,
—The authority of the judge. III. The jury, —Origin
of the jury, —Advantages of the jury, —Defects of the
jury, —The jury as a protection to liberty, —The jury and
criminal law, —Juries untrained and irresponsible, —
Numbers fatal to wisdom, —Defects of judges, —Difference
between the English and Continental jury, —Social evolution
and the jury, —The jury compared to the electorate, —How
to utilise the jury. IV. Existing prison systems a failure,
—Defects of existing penal systems, —The abuse of short
sentences, —The growth of recidivism, —Garofalo's scheme
of punishments, —Von Liszt's scheme of punishments, —The
basis of a rational system of punishment, —The indeterminate
sentence, —Flogging, —The indefinite sentence for habitual
offenders, —Van Hamel's proposals as to sentences, —The
liberation of prisoners on an indefinite sentence, —The
supervision of punishment, —Conditional release, —Good
conduct test in prisons, —Police supervision, —
Indemnification of the victims Of crime, —The duty of the
State towards the victims of crime, —Defensive measures must
be adapted to the different classes of criminals, —Uniformity
of punishment, —The prison staff, —Classification of
prisoners, —Prison labour. V. Asylums for criminal
lunatics, —The treatment of insane criminals, —Crime and
madness, —Classification of asylums for criminal lunatics,
—The treatment of born criminals, —The death penalty,
—Extension of the death penalty, —Inadequacy of the death
penalty, —Imprisonment for life, —Transportation, —
Labour settlements, —Establishments for habitual criminals,
—Criminal heredity, —Incorrigible offenders, —
Cumulative sentences, —Uncorrected or incorrigible criminals,
—Cellular prisons, —Solitary confinement, —The
progressive system of imprisonment, —The evils of cellular
imprisonment, —The cell does not secure separation, —
Costliness of the cellular system, —Labour under the cellular
system, —Open-air work the best for prisoners, —The
treatment of habitual criminals, —The treatment of occasional
criminals, —The treatment of young offenders, —
Futility of short sentences, —Substitutes for short sentences,
—Compulsory work without imprisonment, —Conditional
sentences, —Conditional sentences in Belgium, —Conditional
sentences in the United States, —Objections to conditional
sentences, —When the conditional sentence is legitimate, —
The treatment of criminals of passion, —Conclusion.



During the past twelve or fourteen years Italy has poured forth a
stream of new ideas on the subject of crime and criminals; and
only the short-sightedness of her enemies or the vanity of her
flatterers can fail to recognise in this stream something more
than the outcome of individual labours.

A new departure in science is a simple phenomenon of nature,
determined in its origin and progress, like all such phenomena, by
conditions of time and place. Attention must be drawn to these
conditions at the outset, for it is only by accurately defining
them that the scientific conscience of the student of sociology is
developed and confirmed.

The experimental philosophy of the latter half of our century,
combined with human biology and psychology, and with the natural
study of human society, had already produced an intellectual
atmosphere decidedly favourable to a practical inquiry into the
criminal manifestations of individual and social life.

To these general conditions must be added the plain and everyday
contrast between the metaphysical perfection of criminal law and
the progressive increase of crime, as well as the contrast between
legal theories of crime and the study of the mental
characteristics of a large number of criminals.

From this point onwards, nothing could be more natural than the
rise of a new school, whose object was to make an experimental
study of social pathology in respect of its criminal symptoms, in
order to bring theories of crime and punishment into harmony with
everyday facts. This is the positive school of criminal law,
whereof the fundamental purpose is to study the natural genesis of
criminality in the criminal, and in the physical and social
conditions of his life, so as to apply the most effectual remedies
to the various causes of crime.

Thus we are not concerned merely with the construction of a theory
of anthropology or psychology, or a system of criminal statistics,
nor merely with the setting of abstract legal theories against
other theories which are still more abstract. Our task is to show
that the basis of every theory concerning the self-defence of the
community against evil-doers must be the observation of the
individual and of society in their criminal activity. In one
word, our task is to construct a criminal sociology.

For, as it seems to me, all that general sociology can do is to
furnish the more ordinary and universal inferences concerning the
life of communities; and upon this canvas the several sciences of
sociology are delineated by the specialised observation of each
distinct order of social facts. In this manner we may
construct a political sociology, an economic sociology, a legal
sociology, by studying the special laws of normal or social
activity amongst human beings, after previously studying the more
general laws of individual and collective existence. And thus we
may construct a criminal sociology, by studying, with such an aim
and by such a method, the abnormal and anti-social actions of
human beings—or, in other words, by studying crime and criminals.

Neither the Romans, great exponents as they were of the civil law,
nor the practical spirits of the Middle Ages, had been able to lay
down a philosophic system of criminal law. It was Beccaria,
influenced far more by sentiment than by scientific precision, who
gave a great impetus to the doctrine of crimes and punishments by
summarising the ideas and sentiments of his age.[1] Out of the
various germs contained in his generous initiative there has been
developed, to his well-deserved credit, the classical school of
criminal law.

[1] Desjardins, in the Introduction to his "Cahiers des Etats
Generaux en 1789 et la Legislation Criminelle,'' Paris,
1883, gives a good description of the state of public opinion in
that age. He speaks also of the charges which were brought
against the advocates of the new doctrines concerning crime, that
they upset the moral and social order of things. Nowadays,
charges against the experimental school are cited from these same
advocates; for the revolutionary of yesterday is very often the
conservative of to-day.

This school had, and still has, a practical purpose, namely, to
diminish all punishments, and to abolish a certain number, by a
magnanimous reaction of humanity against the arbitrary harshness
of mediaeval times. It had also, and still has, a method of its
own, namely, to study crime from its first principles, as
an abstract entity dependent upon law.

Here and there since the time of Beccaria another stream of theory
has made itself manifest. Thus there is the correctional school,
which Roeder brought into special prominence not many years ago.
But though it flourished in Germany, less in Italy and France, and
somewhat more in Spain, it had no long existence as an independent
school, for it was only too easily confuted by the close sequence
of inexorable facts. Moreover, it could do no more than oppose a
few humanitarian arguments on the reformation of offenders to the
traditional arguments of the theories of jurisprudence, of
absolute and relative justice, of intimidation, utility, and the

No doubt the principle that punishment ought to have a reforming
effect upon the criminal survives as a rudimentary organ in nearly
all the schools which concern themselves with crime. But this is
only a secondary principle, and as it were the indirect object of
punishment; and besides, the observations of anthropology,
psychology, and criminal statistics have finally disposed of it,
having established the fact that, under any system of punishment,
with the most severe or the most indulgent methods, there are
always certain types of criminals, representing a large number of
individuals, in regard to whom amendment is simply impossible, or
very transitory, on account of their organic and moral
degeneration. Nor must we forget that, since the natural roots of
crime spring not only from the individual organism, but also, in
large measure, from its physical and social environment,
correction of the individual is not sufficient to prevent
relapse if we do not also, to the best of our ability, reform the
social environment. The utility and the duty of reformation none
the less survive, even for the positive school, whenever it is
possible, and for certain classes of criminals; but, as a
fundamental principle of a scientific theory, it has passed away.

Hitherto, then, the classical school stands alone, with varying
shades of opinion, but one and distinct as a method, and as a body
of principles and consequences. And whilst it has achieved its
aim in the most recent penal codes, with a great, and too
frequently an excessive diminution of punishments, so in respect
of theory, in Italy, Germany, and France it has crowned its work
with a series of masterpieces amongst which I will only mention
Carrara's "Programme of Criminal Law.'' As the author tells us
in one of his later editions, from the a priori principle
that "crime is a fact dependent upon law, an infraction rather
than an action,'' he deduced—and that by the sheer force of an
admirable logic—a complete symmetrical scheme of legal and
abstract consequences, wherein judges are compelled, whether they
like it or not, to determine the position of every criminal who
comes before them.

But now the classical school, which sprang from the marvellous
little work of Beccaria, has completed its historic cycle. It has
yielded all it could, and writers of the present day who still
cling to it can only recast the old material. The youngest of
them, indeed, are condemned to a sort of Byzantine discussion of
scholastic formulas, and to a sterile process of scientific

And meantime, outside our universities and academies, criminality
continues to grow, and the punishments hitherto inflicted, though
they can neither protect nor indemnify the honest, succeed in
corrupting and degrading evil-doers. And whilst our treatises and
codes (which are too often mere treatises cut up into segments)
lose themselves in the fog of their legal abstractions, we feel
more strongly every day, in police courts and at assizes, the
necessity for those biological and sociological studies of crime
and criminals which, when logically directed, can throw light as
nothing else can upon the administration of
the penal law.



The experimental school of criminal sociology took its original
title from its studies of anthropology; it is still commonly
regarded as little more than a "criminal anthropology school.''
And though this title no longer corresponds with the development
of the school, which also takes into account and investigates the
data of psychology, statistics, and sociology, it is none the less
true that the most characteristic impetus of the new scientific
movement was due to anthropological studies. This was
conspicuously the case when Lombroso, giving a scientific form to
sundry scattered and fragmentary observations upon criminals,
added fresh life to them by a collection of inquiries which were
not only original but also governed by a distinct idea, and
established the new science of criminal anthropology.

It is possible, of course, to discover a very early origin for
criminal anthropology, as for general anthropology; for, as Pascal
said, man has always been the most wonderful object of study to
himself. For observations on physiognomy in particular we may go
as far backwards as to Plato, and his comparisons of the human
face and character with those of the brutes, or even to
Aristotle, who still earlier observed the physical and
psychological correspondence between the passions of men and their
facial expression. And after the mediaeval gropings in
chiromancy, metoscopy, podomancy and so forth, one comes to the
seventeenth century studies in physiognomy by the Jesuit
Niquetius, by Cortes, Cardanus, De la Chambre, Della Porta, &c.,
who were precursors of Gall, Spurzheim, and Lavater on one side,
and, on the other, of the modern scientific study of the emotions,
with their expression in face and gesture, conducted by Camper,
Bell, Engel, Burgess, Duchenne, Gratiolet, Piderit, Mantegazza,
Schaffhausen, Schack, Heiment, and above all by Darwin.

With regard to the special observation of criminals, over and
above the limited statements of the old physiognomists and
phrenologists, Lauvergne (1841) in France and Attomyr (1842) in
Germany had accurately applied the theories of Gall to the
examination of convicts; and their works, in spite of certain
exaggerations of phrenology, are still a valuable treasury of
observations in anthropology. In Italy, De Rolandis (1835) had
published his observations on a deceased criminal; in America,
Sampson (1846) had traced the connection between criminality and
cerebral organisation; in Germany, Camper (1854) published a study
on the physiognomy of murderers; and Ave Lallemant (1858-62)
produced a long work on criminals, from the psychological point of

But the science of criminal anthropology, more strictly
speaking, only begins with the observations of English gaol
surgeons and other learned men, such as Forbes Winslow (1854),
Mayhew (1860), Thomson (1870), Wilson (1870), Nicolson (1872),
Maudsley (1873), and with the very notable work of Despine (1868),
which indeed gave rise to the inquiries of Thomson, and which, in
spite of its lack of synthetic treatment and systematic unity, is
still, taken in conjunction with the work of Ave Lallemant, the
most important inquiry in the psychological domain anterior to the
work of Lombroso.

Nevertheless, it was only with the first edition of "The
Criminal'' (1876) that criminal anthropology asserted itself as an
independent science, distinct from the main trunk of general
anthropology, itself quite recent in its origin, having come into
existence with the works of Daubenton, Blumenbach, Soemmering,
Camper, White, and Pritchard.

The work of Lombroso set out with two original faults: the mistake
of having given undue importance, at any rate apparently, to the
data of craniology and anthropometry, rather than to those of
psychology; and, secondly, that of having mixed up, in the first
two editions, all criminals in a single class. In later editions
these defects were eliminated, Lombroso having adopted the
observation which I made in the first instance, as to the various
anthropological categories of criminals. This does not prevent
certain critics of criminal anthropology from repeating, with a
strange monotony, the venerable objections as to the
"impossibility of distinguishing a criminal from an honest man by
the shape of his skull,'' or of "measuring human
responsibility in accordance with different craniological

[2] Vol. ii. of the fourth edition of "The Criminal'' (1889) is
specially concerned with the epileptic and idiotic criminal
(referred to alcoholism, hysteria, mattoidism) whether occasional
or subject to violent impulse; whilst vol. i. is concerned only
with congenital criminality and moral insanity.

But these original faults in no way obscure the two following
noteworthy facts—that within a few years after the publication of
"The Criminal'' there were published, in Italy and elsewhere, a
whole library of studies in criminal anthropology, and that a new
school has been established, having a distinct method and
scientific developments, which are no longer to be looked for in
the classical school of criminal law.


What, then, is criminal anthropology? And of what nature are its
fundamental data, which lead us up to the general conclusions of
criminal sociology?

If general anthropology is, according to the definition of M. de
Quatrefages, the natural history of man, as zoology is the natural
history of animals, criminal anthropology is but the study of a
single variety of mankind. In other words, it is the natural
history of the criminal man.

Criminal anthropology studies the criminal man in his organic and
psychical constitution, and in his life as related to his physical
and social environment—just as anthropology has done for man in
general, and for the various races of mankind. So that, as
already said, whilst the classical observers of crime study
various offences in their abstract character, on the
assumption that the criminal, apart from particular cases which
are evident and appreciable, is a man of the ordinary type, under
normal conditions of intelligence and feeling, the anthropological
observers of crime, on the other hand, study the criminal first of
all by means of direct observations, in anatomical and
physiological laboratories, in prisons and madhouses, organically
and physically, comparing him with the typical characteristics of
the normal man, as well as with those of the mad and the

Before recounting the general data of criminal anthropology, it is
necessary to lay particular stress upon a remark which I made in
the original edition of this work, but which our opponents have
too frequently ignored.

We must carefully discriminate between the technical value of
anthropological data concerning the criminal man and their
scientific function in criminal sociology.

For the student of criminal anthropology, who builds up the
natural history of the criminal, every characteristic has an
anatomical, or a physiological, or a psychological value in
itself, apart from the sociological conclusions which it may be
possible to draw from it. The technical inquiry into these bio-
psychical characteristics is the special work of this new science
of criminal anthropology.

Now these data, which are the conclusions of the anthropologist,
are but starting-points for the criminal sociologist, from which
he has to reach his legal and social conclusions. Criminal
anthropology is to criminal sociology, in its scientific
function, what the biological sciences, in description and
experimentation, are to clinical practice.

In other words, the criminal sociologist is not in duty bound to
conduct for himself the inquiries of criminal anthropology, just
as the clinical operator is not bound to be a physiologist or an
anatomist. No doubt the direct observation of criminals is a very
serviceable study, even for the criminal sociologist; but the only
duty of the latter is to base his legal and social inferences upon
the positive data of criminal anthropology for the biological
aspects of crime, and upon statistical data for the influences of
physical and social environment, instead of contenting himself
with mere abstract legal syllogisms.

On the other hand it is clear that sundry questions which have a
direct bearing upon criminal anthropology—as, for instance, in
regard to some particular biological characteristic, or to its
evolutionary significance—have no immediate obligation or value
for criminal sociology, which employs only the fundamental and
most indubitable data of criminal anthropology. So that it is but
a clumsy way of propounding the question to ask, as it is too
frequently asked: "What connection can there be between the
cephalic index, or the transverse measurement of a murderer's jaw,
and his responsibility for the crime which he has committed?''
The scientific function of the anthropological data is a very
different thing, and the only legitimate question which sociology
can put to anthropology is this:—"Is the criminal, and in what
respects is he, a normal or an abnormal man? And if he is,
or when he is abnormal, whence is the abnormality derived? Is it
congenital or contracted, capable or incapable of rectification?''

This is all; and yet it is sufficient to enable the student of
crime to arrive at positive conclusions concerning the measures
which society can take in order to defend itself against crime;
whilst he can draw other conclusions from criminal statistics.

As for the principal data hitherto established by criminal
anthropology, whilst we must refer the reader for detailed
information to the works of specialists, we may repeat that this
new science studies the criminal in his organic and in his
psychical constitution, for these are the two inseparable aspects
of human existence.

A beginning has naturally been made with the organic study of the
criminal, both anatomical and physiological, since we must study
the organ before the function, and the physical before the moral.
This, however, has given rise to a host of misconceptions and one-
sided criticisms, which have not yet ceased; for criminal
anthropology has been charged, by such as consider only the most
conspicuous data with narrowing crime down to the mere result of
conformations of the skull or convolutions of the brain. The fact
is that purely morphological observations are but preliminary
steps to the histological and physiological study of the brain,
and of the body as a whole.

As for craniology, especially in regard to the two distinct and
characteristic types of criminals—murderers and thieves, an
incontestable inferiority has been noted in the shape of the head,
by comparison with normal men, together with a greater frequency
of hereditary and pathological departures from the normal type.
Similarly an examination of the brains of criminals, whilst it
reveals in them an inferiority of form and histological type,
gives also, in a great majority of cases, indications of disease
which were frequently undetected in their lifetime. Thus M.
Dally, who for twenty years past has displayed exceptional acumen
in problems of this kind, said that "all the criminals who had
been subjected to autopsy (after execution) gave evidence of
cerebral injury.''[3]

[3] In a discussion at the Medico-Psychological Society of Paris;
"Proceedings'' for 1881, i. 93, 266, 280, 483.

Observations of the physiognomy of criminals, which no one will
undervalue who has studied criminals in their lifetime, with
adequate knowledge, as well as other physical inquiries, external
and internal, have shown the existence of remarkable types, from
the greater frequency of the tattooed man to exceptionally
abnormal conditions of the frame and the organs, dating from
birth, together with many forms of contracted disease.

Finally, inquiries of a physiological nature into the reflex
action of the body, and especially into general and specific
sensibility, and sensibility to pain, and into reflex action under
external agencies, conducted with the aid of instruments which
record the results, have shown abnormal conditions, all tending to
physical insensibility, deep-seated and more or less
absolute, but incontestably different in kind from that which
obtains amongst the average men of the same social classes.

These are organic conditions, it must be at once affirmed, which
account as nothing else can for the undeniable fact of the
hereditary transmission of tendencies to crime, as well as of
predisposition to insanity, to suicide, and to other forms of

The second division of criminal anthropology, which is by far the
more important, with a more direct influence upon criminal
sociology, is the psychological study of the criminal. This
recognition of its greater importance does not prevent our critics
from concentrating their attack upon the organic characterisation
of criminals, in oblivion of the psychological characterisation,
which even in Lombroso's book occupies the larger part of the

[4] A recent example of this infatuation amongst one-sided, and
therefore ineffectual critics is the work of Colajanni,
"Socialism and Criminal Sociology,'' Catania, 1889. In the first
volume, which is devoted to criminal anthropology, out of four
hundred pages of argumentative criticism (which does not prevent
the author from taking our most fundamental conclusions on the
anthropological classification of criminals, and on crime, as
phenomena of psychical atavism), there are only six pages, 227-
232, for the criticism of psychological types.

Criminal psychology presents us with the characteristics which may
be called specially descriptive, such as the slang, the
handwriting, the secret symbols, the literature and art of the
criminal; and on the other hand it makes known to us the
characteristics which, in combination with organic abnormality,
account for the development of crime in the individual. And these
characteristics are grouped in two psychical and fundamental
abnormalities, namely, moral insensibility and want of foresight.

Moral insensibility, which is decidedly more congenital than
contracted, is either total or partial, and is displayed in
criminals who inflict personal injuries, as much as in others,
with a variety of symptoms which I have recorded elsewhere, and
which are eventually reduced to these conditions of the moral
sense in a large number of criminals—a lack of repugnance to the
idea and execution of the offence, previous to its commission, and
the absence of remorse after committing it.

Outside of these conditions of the moral sense, which is no
special sentiment, but an expression of the entire moral
constitution of the individual, as the temperament is of his
physiological constitution, other sentiments, of selfishness or
even of unselfishness, are not wanting in the majority of
criminals. Hence arise many illusions for superficial observers
of criminal life. But these latter sentiments are either
excessive, as hate, cupidity, vanity and the like, and are thus
stimulants to crime, or else, as with religion, love, honour,
loyalty, and so on, they cease to be forces antagonistic to crime,
because they have no foundation in a normal moral sense.

From this fundamental inferiority of sentiment there follows an
inferiority of intelligence, which, however, does not exclude
certain forms of craftiness, though it tends to inability to
foresee the consequences of crime, far in excess of what is
observed in the average members of the classes of society to which
the several criminals belong.

Thus the psychology of the criminal is summed up in a defective
resistance to criminal tendencies and temptations, due to that
ill-balanced impulsiveness which characterises children and


I have long been convinced, by my study of works on criminal
anthropology, but especially by direct and continuous observation
from a physiological or a psychological point of view of a large
number of criminals, whether mad or of normal intelligence, that
the data of criminal anthropology are not entirely applicable, in
their complete and essential form, to all who commit crimes. They
are to be confined to a certain number, who may be called
congenital, incorrigible, and habitual criminals. But apart from
these there is a class of occasional criminals, who do not
exhibit, or who exhibit in slighter degrees, the anatomical,
physiological, and psychological characteristics which constitute
the type described by Lombroso as "the criminal man.''

Before further defining these two main classes of criminals, in
their natural and descriptive characterisation, I must add a
positive demonstration, which can be attested under two distinct
forms—(1) by the results of anthropological observation of
criminals, and (2) by statistics of relapse, and of the
manifestations of crime which anthropologists have hitherto
chiefly studied.

As for organic anomalies, as I cannot here treat the whole
matter in detail, I will simply reproduce from my study of
homicide a summary of results for a single category of these
anomalies, which a methodical observation of every class of
criminals will carry further and render more precise, as Lombroso
has already shown (see the fourth edition of his work, 1889, p.

Homicides sentenced
To penal To Imprisonment Soldiers
Persons in whom I detected (346) (363) (711)
No anomaly in the skull 11.9 p.c. 8.2 p.c. 37.2 p.c.
One or two anomalies 47.2 '' 56.6 '' 51.8 ''
Three or four anomalies 30.9 '' 2.6 '' 11 ''
Five or six anomalies 6.7 '' 2.3 '' 0 ''
Seven or more anomalies .3 '' .3 '' 0 ''

That is to say, men with normal skulls were three times as
numerous amongst soldiers as they were amongst criminals; of men
with a noteworthy number of anomalies occurring together (three or
four), there were three times as many amongst criminals as amongst
soldiers; and there was not one soldier amongst those who showed
an extraordinary number (five or more).

This proves to demonstration not only the greater frequency of
anomalous skulls (and the same is true of physiognomical,
physiological, and psychological anomalies) amongst criminals, but
also that amongst these criminals between fifty and sixty per
cent. show very few anomalies, whilst about one-third of the whole
number present a remarkable combination, and one-tenth are normal
in this respect.

Amongst the statistical data exhibiting the primary
characteristics of the majority of criminals, the data connected
with relapsed criminals are especially conspicuous. Though
relapses, like first offences, are partly due to social
conditions, they also have a manifest biological cause, since,
under the operation of the same penal system, there are some
liberated prisoners who relapse and some who do not.

The statistics of relapse are unfortunately very difficult to
collect, on account of differences in the legislation of different
countries, and in the preparation of records, which, even under
the more general adoption of anthropometrical identification,
rarely succeed in preventing the use of fresh names by
professional criminals. So that we may still say, in the words of
one who is a very good judge in this matter, M. Yvernes, not
only that "the Prisons Congress of London (1872) was compelled to
leave various problems undecided for lack of documentary evidence,
and especially the question of relapsed criminals,'' but also that
to this day (1879), "we find varying results in different
countries, the exact significance of which is not apparent.''

I have, however, published an essay on international statistics of
relapsed criminals, from which I drew the following general
conclusion: that even in prison statistics, which often give
higher totals of relapsed cases than are given by judicial
statistics, because they are more personal, and therefore less
uncertain, we never obtain the full number of relapses, though the
totals given vary from country to country, from district to
district, and from prison to prison. It would be impossible
to state accurately what proportion the numbers given bear to the
actual number; but I am justified in saying, from all the
materials which I have collected and compared in the aforesaid
essay, that the number of relapses in Europe is generally between
50 and 60 per cent., and certainly rather above than below this
limit. Whilst the Italian statistics, for instance, give 14 per
cent. of relapses amongst prisoners sentenced to penal servitude,
I found by experience 37 per cent; out of 346 who admitted to me
that they had relapsed; and, amongst those who had been sentenced
to simple imprisonment, I found 60 per cent. out of 363, in place
of the 33 per cent. recorded in the prison statistics. The
difference may be due to the particular conditions of the prisons
which I visited; but in any case it establishes the inadequacy of
the official figures dealing with relapse.

After this statement of a general fact, which proves, as Lombroso
and Espinas said, that "the relapsed criminal is the rule rather
than the exception,'' we can proceed to set down the special
proportions of relapse for each particular crime, so as to obtain
an indication of the forms of crime which are most frequently
resorted to by habitual criminals.

For Italy I have found that the highest percentages of relapse are
afforded by persons convicted of theft and petty larceny, forgery,
rape, manslaughter, conspiracy, and, at the correctional courts,
vagrancy and mendacity. The lowest percentages are amongst those
convicted of assault and bodily harm, murders, and infanticide.

For France, where legal statistics are remarkably adapted for the
most minute inquiry, I have drawn up the following table of
statistics from the lists of persons convicted at the assize
courts and correctional tribunals, taking an average of the years
1877-81, which is not sensibly affected by the results of
succeeding years.

It will be seen that the average of relapses for crimes against
the person is higher than the average for the most serious cases
of murderous and indecent assault, which are clearly an outcome of
the most anti-social tendencies (such as parricide, murder, rape,
inflicting bodily harm on parents, &c.). Thus homicide and fatal
wounding, though relapse is very frequent in these cases, still
display a less abnormal and more occasional character by their
lower position in the table, as shown in the cases of infanticide,
concealment of birth, and abandonment of infants. As for the very
frequent occurrence of relapse in special crimes, such as assaults
on officials and resistance to authority, which rarely come before
the assize courts—though even there they tend to support the
higher numbers in the tribunals—these are offences which may also
be committed by criminals of every kind, and which, moreover,
depend in some measure on the social factor of police
organisation, and frequently on the psycho-pathological state of
particular individuals.

The somewhat rare occurrence of relapse in such a grave type of
murder as poisoning is noteworthy. But this is only an effect of
the special psychology of these criminals, as I have explained


(Against the person) p. 100
Violence against public officers 85.8
Bigamy 59.3
Wounding parents or grandparents 55.9
Riot 55.3
Kidnapping of minors 46.2
Sexual assault on adults 44.0
Wilful murder (assassination) 42.3
Parricide 41.7
Manslaughter (homicide) 39.4
Sexual assaults on children 38.5
Attempts against railways 37.5
Serious wounds followed by death 36.8
General average 35.8

Abortion 30.0
Perjury 26.7
Sequestration 18.8
Poisoning 16.7
Infanticide 6.0
Stealing, substitution or abandoning children 4.9

(Against property) p. 100
Theft in churches 74.3
Thefts, simple 71.7
Robbery, with violence, not on the highway 66.0
Burning buildings not inhabited, woods, etc. 59.8
General average 58.5

Barratry 50.0
Theft by servants 44.2
Counterfeiting 43.8
Forgery, private writings 42.5
Burning inhabited dwellings 41.5
Forgery, commercial paper 38.3
Forgery, public documents 37.0
Fraudulent bankruptcy 35.3
Abuse of confidence by domestic servant 32.5
Extortion 30.7
Embezzlement of public funds 28.5
Robbing the mails by postal employees
Smuggling by customs officers

DELICTS p. 100
Infractions of surveillance 100
Infractions of expulsion of foreign fugitives 93.0
Infractions of interdiction to sojourn 89.0
Drunkenness 78.4
Vagabondage 71.3
Begging 65.7
Fraud (escroquerie) 47.8
Insult to public officers 46.8
Forcible entry 45.3
Thefts 45.2
Breach of trust 43.8
General average 41.9

Riot, resistance 40.3
Written or verbal threats 39.6
Prohibited weapons, etc. 37.3
Political, electoral, and newspaper delicts 35.7
Outrage to public morality 34.5
Public outrage to decency 32.2
Voluntary wounds and blows 31.0
Unlawful opening of cafes, inns 27.7
Unlawful practice of medicine or pharmacy 26.6
Contraventions of railway regulations 25.3
Hunting or carrying prohibited arms 24.2
Breach of good morals, tending to corruption 23.8
Simple bankruptcy 23.6
Insult to ministers of religion 20.4
Fraudulent sales of merchandise 16.7
Defamations, insults, calumnies 14.2
Rural delicts 12.0

Amongst crimes against property, the most frequent relapses are
found in the case of thieves (not including thefts and breaches of
trust by domestic servants, which thus, proving their more
occasional character, confirm the agreement of statistics with
criminal psychology). The same thing is observed in regard to
forgers of commercial documents and to fraudulent bankrupts, who
are partly drawn into crime under the stress of personal or
general crises. And the infrequency of relapse amongst postal
employees condemned for embezzlement, and amongst customs officers
who have been guilty of smuggling, is only a further confirmation
of the inducement to crime by the opportunities met with in each
case, rather than by personal tendencies.

Amongst minor offences, apart from that evasion of supervision
which is no more than a legal condition, there are, both in France
and in Italy, very frequent cases of relapse by vagabonds and
mendicants, which is a consequence of social environment, as well
as of the feeble organisation of the individuals. Other relapses
above the average, included amongst these offences, constitute a
sort of accessory criminality, existing side by side with the
habitual criminality of thieves, murderers, and the like, such as
drunkenness, attacks on public functionaries, infractions of the
regulations of domicile, &c.

In thefts and resistance to authorities, relapse is less frequent
here than in the assize courts, for in the majority of these minor
offences, in their general forms, there is a greater number of
occasional offences, as is also the case with bankruptcies,
defamation, abuse, rural offences, &c., which demonstrate
their more occasional character by their very low figures.

Hence the statistics of general and specific relapse indirectly
confirm the fact that criminals, as a whole, have no uniform
anthropological type; and that the bio-psychical types and
anomalies belong more especially to the category of habitual
criminals and those born into the criminal class, who, after all,
are the only ones hitherto studied by criminal anthropologists.

What, then, is the numerical proportion of habitual criminals to
the aggregate number of criminals?

In the absence of direct inquiry, it is possible to get at this
proportion indirectly, from facts of two kinds. In the first
place, a study of the works on criminal anthropology supplies us
with an approximate figure, since the biological characteristics
united in individuals, in sufficient number to create a criminal
type, are met with in between forty and fifty per cent. of the

And this conclusion may be confirmed by other data of criminal

Whilst the statistics of relapse give us a very limited number of
crimes and offences committed by born and habitual criminals,
science and criminal legislation give us a far more extended

Ellero reckoned in the penal code of the German Empire 203 crimes
and offences; and I find that the Italian code of 1859 enumerates
about 180, the new code about 200, and the French penal code about
150. Thus the kind of crimes of habitual criminals would
only be about one-tenth of the complete legal classification of
crimes and offences.

It is easy indeed to suppose that born and habitual criminals do
not generally commit political crimes and offences, nor offences
connected with the press, nor against freedom of worship, nor in
corruption of public functionaries, nor misuse of title or
authority; nor calumny, making false attestations or false
reports; nor adultery, incest, or abduction of minors; nor
infanticide, abortion, or palming of children; nor betrayal of
professional secrets; nor bankruptcy offences, nor damage to
property, nor violation of domicile, nor illegal arrests, nor
duels, nor defamation, nor abuse. I say generally; for, as there
are occasional criminals who commit the offences characteristic of
habitual criminality, such as homicides, robberies, rapes, &c., so
there are born criminals who sometimes commit crimes out of their
ordinary course.

It is now necessary to add a few statistical data in respect of
the classification of crime, which I take, like the others, from
the essay already mentioned.

(homicide, theft, conspiracy,
rape, incendiarism,
vagrancy, swindling) A* B* C* A* B* C* A* B* C*
Proportion of the persons p.c. p.c. p.c. p.c p.c. p.c. p.c. p.c. p.c.
convicted of these crimes
and offences to the total
number of convictions . . 84 32 38 90 34 35 86 30 30

{* NOTE: A, B and C above are 'Assizes,' 'Tribunals,' and 'Totals,'

That is to say, habitual criminality would be represented, in
Italy, by about 40 per cent. of the total number of condemned
persons, and by somewhat less in France and Belgium. This would
be accounted for in Belgium by the exclusion of vagrancy; but the
difference is virtually due to the greater frequency in Italy of
certain crimes, such as homicide, highway robbery with violence,
and conspiracies.

Further, it is apparent that in all these countries the types of
habitual criminality, with the exception of thefts and vagrancy,
are in greater proportion at the assizes, on account of their
serious character.

The actual totals, however, are larger at the tribunals, for as,
in the scale of animal life, the greatest fecundity belongs to the
lower and smaller forms, so in the criminal scale, the less
serious offences (such as simple theft, swindling, vagrancy, &c.)
are the more numerous. Thus, out of the total of 38 per cent. in
Italy, 32 belong to the tribunals and 6 to the assizes; out of 35
per cent in France, 33 belong to the tribunals and 2 to the
assizes; and out of 30 per cent. in Belgium, 29 belong to the
tribunals and 1 to the assizes. This also is partly accounted for
by legislative distinctions as to the respective jurisdictions of
these courts.

As to the particulars of the totals, it is found that thefts are
the most numerous types in Italy (20 per cent.), in France (24 per
cent.), in Belgium (23 per cent.), and in Prussia (37 per cent.,
including breaches of trust).[5]

[5] Starke, "Verbrechen und Verbrecher in Preussen,'' Berlin,
1884, p. 92.

After theft, the most numerous in Italy are vagrancy (5 per
cent.), homicides (4 per cent.), swindling (3 per cent.), forgery
(.9 per cent.), rape (.4 per cent.), conspiracy (.4 per cent.),
and incendiarism (.2 per cent.).

In France and Belgium we find the same relative frequency of
vagrancy and swindling; but homicide, incendiarism, and conspiracy
are less frequent, whilst rape is more common in France (.5 per
cent.) and in Belgium (1 per cent.).

Such then are the most frequent forms of habitual criminality in
the generality of condemned persons; and it will be useful now to
contrast the more frequent forms of occasional criminality. For
Italy the only judicial statistics which are valuable for detailed
inquiry are those of 1863, 1869-72. For France, every volume of
the admirable series of criminal statistics may be utilised.

It will be seen that the frequency of these occasional crimes and
offences in Italy and in France is very variable, though assaults
and wounding, resistance to authorities, damage, defamation and
abuse, are the most numerous in both countries.

The proportion of each offence to the total also varies
considerably, not only through a difference of legislation between
Italy and France in regard to poaching, drunkenness, frauds on
refreshment-house keepers, and so forth, but also by reason of the
different condition of individuals and of society in the two
countries. Thus assaults and wounding, which in Italy comprise 23
per cent. of the total of convictions, reach in France no more
than 14 per cent., whilst resistance to the authorities, &c.,

ITALY, 1863-72. FRANCE
(not including those of Habitual Criminals).
p.c. p.c. p.c. p.c.
Wilful Assault and Wounding ...
Illegally carrying Arms ...... — 8 7 — 3 3
Resistance to Authority, Assaults and
Violence against Public Functionaries ... 3 5 4 —2 10 10
Injury to Property ... ... ... — 2 2 — I 1-6 1 5
Defamation and Abuse ... ... ... — s-S 1-6 — I-6 1 5
Written or Spoken Threats ... ... — 1 4 1'2 — '2 —2
Illegal Games ... ... ... ... — I —8 — 2 1 'I
Political Crimes and Offences ...... 31.7 — —2 — 4 2 —2
Press Crimes and Offences ... ... 4 4 —4 — —6 —6
Embezzlement, Corruption, Malfeasance
of Public Functionaries — —3 .3 — — —
Escape from Detention —1 —2 2 — —6 —6
False Witness .. ... ... ... —7 2 —2 09 6 —6
Violation of Domicile ... ... ... — 17 .15 — lo —9
Calumny ... —. —1 I 1 —oS —o8
Exposure, Palming or "Suppression''
of Infants — —12 1 —2 —1 —1
Bankruptcy Offences ... ... ... I 1 —1 1'3 5 —6
Offences against Religion and Ministers
of Religion — 1 —1 — —7 .07
Duelling ... .. .. ... ... ... — .04 .03 — — —
Abortion ... ... ... ... ... — — — og — —OI
Offences against the Game Laws — — — — 13 12-7
Drunkenness — — — — 1 5 1 5
Offences against Public Decency — — — — I-8 1.7
Adultery ... ... ... ... ... — — — —5 5
Offences against Morality, with Incitement
to Immorality ... ... — — — — —2 —2
Involuntary Homicide — — — — —2 —2
'' Wounding — — — — —6 —6
'' Incendiarism — — — — —2 —2
Illegal Practising of Medicine and
Surgery ... ... ... ... ... — — — — —2 —2
Frauds on Keepers of Refreshment
Houses ... ... ... ... ... — — — — I-4 1 4
Rural Offences ... ... ... ... — — — — 6 —6
— — m
Yearly Average of Convictions,
Gross Totals 6,273 43,584 49,857 3,300 163,997

[1] Devastation of crops, destruction of fences. [2] Unauthorised gaming
houses; secret lotteries. [3] An exceptional figure, owing to 528
in 1863, whilst the average of the other years was nine convictions.
[4] Electoral offences.

are 4 per cent. in Italy, touch 9 per cent in France.
Sexual crimes and offences (as we saw in the case of rape), such
as abortion, adultery, indecent assaults, and incitement to
immorality, which in Italy present very small and negligible
figures, are more frequent in France. Whilst the illegal carrying
of arms, threats, false witness, escape from detention, violations
of domicile, calumny, are of greater frequency in Italy than in
France, the contrary is true of bankruptcy offences, political and
press crimes and offences, on account of a manifest difference of
the moral, economic, and social conditions of the two countries,
which are plainly discernible behind these apparently dry figures.

In addition to this demonstration, we have given anthropological
and statistical proofs of the fundamental distinction between
habitual and occasional criminals, which had been pointed out by
many observers, but which had hitherto remained a simple assertion
without manifest consequences.

This same distinction ought to be not only the basis of all
sociological theory concerning crime, but also a point of
departure for other distinctions more precise and complete, which
I set forth in my previous studies on criminals, and which were
subsequently reproduced, with more or less of assent, by all
criminal sociologists.

In the first place, it is necessary to distinguish, amongst
habitual criminals, those who present a conspicuous and clinical
form of mental aberration, which accounts for their anti-social

In the second place, amongst habitual criminals who are not of
unsound mind, however little the inmates of prisons may have been
observed with adequate ideas and experience, there is a clear
indication of a class of individuals, physically or mentally
abnormal, induced to crime by inborn tendencies, which are
manifest from their birth, and accompanied by symptoms of extreme
moral insensibility. Side by side with these, another class
challenges attention, of individuals who have also been criminals
from childhood, and who continue to be so, but who are in a
special degree a product of physical and social environment, which
has persistently driven them into the criminal life, by their
abandonment before and after the first offence, and which,
especially in the great towns, is very often forced upon them by
the actual incitement of their parents.

Amongst occasional criminals, again, a special category is created
by a kind of exaggeration of the characteristics, mainly
psychological, of the type itself. In the case of all occasional
criminals, the crime is brought about rather by the effects of
environment than by the active tendencies of the individual; but
whilst in most of these individuals the deciding cause is only a
circumstance affecting all alike, with a few it is an exceptional
constraint of passion, a sort of psychological tempest, which
drives them into crime.

Thus, then, the entire body of criminals may be classed in five
categories, which as early as 1880 I described as criminal madmen,
born criminals, criminals by contracted habits, occasional
criminals, and criminals of passion.

As already observed, criminal anthropology will not finally
establish itself until it has been developed by biological,
psychological, and statistical monographs on each of these
categories, in such a manner as to present their anthropological
characteristics with greater precision than they have hitherto
attained. So far, observers continue to give us the same
characteristics for a large aggregate of criminals, classifying
them according to the form of their crime rather than according to
their bio-social type. In Lombroso's work, for instance, or in
that of Marro (and to some extent even in my work on homicide),
the characteristics are stated for a total, or for legal
categories of criminals, such as murderers, thieves, forgers, and
so on, which include born criminals, occasional and habitual
criminals, and madmen. The result is a certain measure of
inconsistency, according to the predominance of one type or the
other in the aggregate of criminals under observation. This also
contributes to render the conclusions of criminal anthropology
less evident.

Nevertheless, we may sum up the inquiries which have been made up
to the present time; and in particular we may now point out the
general characteristics of the five classes of criminals, in
accordance with my personal experience in the observation of
criminals. It is to be hoped that successive observations of a
more methodical kind will gradually reinforce the accuracy of this
classification of symptoms.

In the first place, it is evident that in a classification not
exclusively biological, if it is to form the anthropological basis
of criminal sociology, criminals of unsound mind must in all
fairness be included.

The usual objection, recently repeated by M. Joly ("Le Crime,''
p. 62), which holds the term "criminal madness'' to be self-
contradictory, since a madman is not morally responsible, and
therefore cannot be a criminal, is not conclusive. We maintain
that responsibility to society, the only responsibility common to
all criminals, exists also for criminals of unsound mind.

Nor, again, is it correct to say, with M. Bianchi, that mad
criminals should be referred to psychiatry, and not to criminal
anthropology; for, though psychiatry is concerned with mad
criminals in a psycho-pathological sense, this does not prevent
criminal anthropology and sociology from also concerning
themselves with the same subjects, in order to constitute the
natural history of the criminal, and to suggest remedies in the
interest of society.

As for criminals of unsound mind, it is necessary to begin by
placing in a separate category such as cannot, after the studies
of Lombroso and the Italian school of psychiatry, be distinguished
from the born criminals properly so-called. These are the persons
tainted with a form of insanity which is known under various
names, from the "moral insanity'' of Pritchard to the "reasoning
madness'' of Verga. Moral insanity, illustrated by the works of
Mendel, Legrand du Saulle, Maudsley, Krafft-Ebing, Savage, Hugues,
Hollander, Tamburini, Bonvecchiato, which, with the lack or atrophy of
moral or social sense, and of APPARENT soundness of mind, is properly
speaking only the essential psychological condition of the born criminal.

Beyond these morally insane people, who are very rare—for, as
Krafft-Ebing and Lombroso have pointed out, they are found more
frequently in prisons than in mad-houses—there is the unhappily
large body of persons tainted by a common and clinical form of
mental alienation, all of whom are apt to become criminal.

The whole of these criminals of unsound mind cannot be included in
a single category; and such, indeed, is the opinion expressed by
Lombroso, in the second volume of the fourth edition of his work,
after his descriptive analysis of the chief forms of mental
alienation. As a matter of fact, not only are the organic, and
especially the psychological, characteristics of criminal madmen
sometimes identical with and sometimes opposed to those of born
and occasional criminals, but these very characteristics vary
considerably between the different forms of mental alienation, in
spite of the identity of the crime committed.

It is further to be observed, in respect of criminal madmen, that
this category also includes all the intermediary types between
complete madness and a rational condition, who remain in what
Maudsley has called the "middle zone.'' The most frequent
varieties in the criminality of these partially insane persons, or
"mattoides,'' are the perpetrators of attacks upon
statesmen, who are generally men with a grievance, irascible men,
writers of insane documents, and the like, such as Passanante,
Guiteau, and Maclean.

In the same category are those who commit terrible crimes without
motive, and who nevertheless, according to the complacent
psychology of the classical school, would be credited with a
maximum of moral soundness.

Again, there are the necrophiles, like Sergeant Bertrand, Verzeni,
Menesclou, and very probably the undetected "Jack the Ripper'' of
London, who are tainted with a form of sexual psychopathy. Yet
again there are such as are tainted with hereditary madness, and
especially the epileptics and epileptoids, who may also be
assigned to the class of born criminals, according to the
plausible hypothesis of Lombroso as to the fundamental identity of
congenital criminality, moral madness, and epilepsy. I have
always found in my own experience that outrageous murders, not to
be explained according to the ordinary psychology of criminals,
are accompanied by psychical epilepsy, or larvea.

Born or instinctive criminals are those who most frequently
present the organic and psychological characteristics established
by criminal anthropology. These are either savage or brutal men,
or crafty and idle, who draw no distinction between homicide,
robbery or other kinds of crime, and honest industry. "They are
criminals just as others are good workingmen,'' says Fregier;
and, as Romagnosi put it, actual punishment affects them
much less than the menace of punishment, or does not affect them
at all, since they regard imprisonment as a natural risk of their
occupation, as masons regard the fall of a roof, or as miners
regard fire-damp. "They do not suffer in prison. They are like
a painter in his studio, dreaming of their next masterpiece. They
are on good terms with their gaolers, and even know how to make
themselves useful.''[5]

[5] Moreau, "Souvenirs de la petite et grande Roquette,'' Paris,
1884, ii. 440.

The born criminals and the occasional criminals constitute the
majority of the characteristic and diverse types of homicide and
thief. Prison governors call them "gaol-birds.'' They pass on
from the police to the judge and to the prison, and from the
prison to the police and to the judge, with a regularity which has
not yet impaired the faith of law-makers in the efficacy of
punishment as a cure for crime.[6]

[6] Wayland, "The Incorrigible,'' in the Journal of Mental
Science, 1888. Sichart, "Criminal Incorrigibles.''

No doubt the idea of a born criminal is a direct challenge to the
traditional belief that the conduct of every man is the outcome of
his free will, or at most of his lack of education rather than of
his original physio-psychical constitution. But, in the first
place, even public opinion, when not prejudiced in favour of the
so-called consequences of irresponsibility, recognises in many
familiar and everyday cases that there are criminals who, without
being mad, are still not as ordinary men; and the reporters call
them "human tigers,'' "brutes,'' and the like. And in the
second place, the scientific proofs of these hereditary
tendencies to crime, even apart from the clinical forms of
mental alienation, are now so numerous that it is useless to
insist upon them further.

The third class is that of the criminals whom, after my prison
experience, I have called criminals by contracted habit. These
are they who, not presenting the anthropological characteristics
of the born criminals, or presenting them but slightly, commit
their first crime most commonly in youth, or even in childhood—
almost invariably a crime against property, and far more through
moral weakness, induced by circumstances and a corrupting
environment, than through inborn and active tendencies. After
this, as M. Joly observes, either they are led on by the impunity
of their first offences, or, more decisively, prison associations
debilitate and corrupt them, morally and physically, the cell
degrades them, alcoholism renders them stupid and subject to
impulse, and they continually fall back into crime, and become
chronically prone to it. And society, which thus abandons them,
before and after they leave their prison, to wretchedness,
idleness, and temptations, gives them no assistance in their
struggle to gain an honest livelihood, even when it does not
thrust them back into crime by harassing police regulations, which
prevent them from finding or keeping honest employment.[7]

[7] Fliche, "Comment en devient Criminel,'' Paris, 1886.

Of those criminals who begin by being occasional criminals, and
end, after progressive degeneration, by exhibiting the features of
the born criminals, Thomas More said, "What is this but to make
thieves for the pleasure of hanging them?'' And it is just
this class of criminals whom measures of social prevention might
reduce to a minimum, for by abolishing the causes we abolish the

Apart from their organic and psychological characteristics, innate
or acquired, there are two bio-sociological symptoms which seem to
me to be common, though for distinct reasons, to born criminals
and habitual criminals. I mean precocity and relapse. The
occasional crime and the crime of passion do not, as a rule, occur
before manhood, and rarely or never lead to relapse.

Here are a few figures concerning precocity, derived from
international prison statistics:—

p.c. p.c.
Italy (1871—6) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 8.8 6.8
France ('72-5) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 10 7.6
Prussia ('71-7—not over 19 years) ... ... ... 2.8 2.6
Austria ('72-5) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 9.6 10.6
Hungary ('72-6) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 4.2 9
England ('72-7 )—not over 24) ... ... ... ... 27.4 14.8
Scotland ('72-7) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 20 7.8
Ireland ('72-7) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 9 3.2
Belgium ('74-5) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 20.8 —-
Holland ('72-7) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 22.8 3.7
Sweden ('73-7) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 19.7 17
Switzerland ('74) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 6.6 7
Denmark ('74-5) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 9.9 9.6

More recent figures show that the yearly average in France, for
1876-80, out of 4,374 persons brought to trial, was 1 per cent.
under sixteen years of age, and 17 per cent. between sixteen and
twenty-one; whilst in 1886 the same percentages were .60 and
14. Out of 146,217 accused before the tribunals there were 4 per
cent. under sixteen, and 14 per cent. between sixteen and twenty-
one. Out of 25,135 females there were 4 per cent. under sixteen,
and 11 per cent. between sixteen and twenty-one; whilst in 1886
the percentages were 3 and 14 of males, 2.5 and 14 of females.

In Prussia, of persons accused of crimes and offences in 1860-70,
4 per cent. were under eighteen years.

In Germany, of persons condemned in 1886, 3 per cent. were between
twelve and fifteen, 6 per cent. between fifteen and eighteen, and
16 per cent. between eighteen and twenty-one years.

In Italy, out of 5,189 persons condemned at the assizes in 1887, 3
per cent. were between fourteen and eighteen, and 12 per cent.
between eighteen and twenty-one. Out of 65,624 tried before the
tribunals, 1.2 per cent. were under fourteen, 5 per cent. were
between fourteen and eighteen, and 13 per cent. between eighteen
and twenty-one. There is a continual increase of precocious
criminals in Italy. Prisoners condemned at the assizes under the
age of twenty-one stood at 15 per cent. from 1880 to 1887, whilst
those of a similar age who were tried before the tribunals rose
from 17 to 20 per cent.

To these numerical data may be added others of a qualificative
character, showing that precocity is most frequent in respect of
the natural crimes and offences which are usually observed amongst
born and habitual criminals.

In France the younger prisoners in 1882 had been sentenced in the
following proportions:—

Male. Female.
For murder and poisoning ... ... 0.9 per cent. .5 per cent.
'' homicide, assaults, and wounding 1.6 '' 1.5 ''
'' incendiarism... ... ... ... 1.8 '' 2 ''
'' indecent assault ... ... ... 3.5 '' 11.8 ''
'' specified thefts, forgery, uttering
false coin ... ... ... ... 5.2 '' 2.4 ''
'' simple theft, swindling ... 60.8 '' 49.7 ''
'' mendacity and vagrancy ... 23 '' 20.5 ''
'' other crimes and offences ... 2.7 '' 8 ''
'' defiance of parents ... ... 1 '' 10.5 ''

These figures, showing a greater frequency amongst females of
precocious crimes against the person, and amongst males against
property, are approximately repeated in Switzerland, where young
prisoners in 1870-74 had been sentenced in these proportions:—

For crimes and offences against the person ... 12.1 per cent.
'' '' '' morality ... 5.7 ''
'' incendiarism... ... ... ... ... ... ... 4.3 ''
'' theft ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 65.5 ''
'' swindling ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 5.4 ''
'' forgery ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 1.9 ''
'' vagrancy ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 4.6 ''

The judicial statistics of France and Italy give these


ITALY—1866. FRANCE—1886
ASSIZE COURTS Under 14—18. 28—21. Under j l6—2

Homicide ... ... ... ... p.c. p.c. p.c. p.c. p.c.
Murder(and robbery with homicide) 14 1 i 10 3 7 6
Parricide ...... ... ... ... — 5 —8 7 5 9
Infanticide ... ... ... ... — 1 —4 — 6
Imprisonment ... ... ... ... — — —
Wilful wounding (followed by death) — 19 24 — 3 S
Abortion ...... ... ... ... — — — 1-1
Rape and indecent assault on adults}— 1'2
'' '' children}— 10 7 t 3 7 11
Resistance to and attacks on public
functionaries ... ... ... — 5 —6 — 3
Incendiarism — — —2 3-7 3 1
False money .. .. .. . 14 — 1 3-7 2 5
Forgery in public and private docu-
ments ...... ... ... ... — 5 —2 — 2 —1
Extortion, highway robbery with
violence ... ... ... ... 14 9 7 — 3w 6
Specified and simple theft ... 14 19 16 41 51
Unintentional wounding ... 28 5 2 — —
Total of condemned and accused 7 179 475 27 641

The French statistics for the tribunals—no complete Italian
statistics being available, are as follows:—


le. Female. Offences. Under 16. 16—21 Under 16.1 16—21
per cent. per cent. per cent. per cent.

Resistance to authorities ... ... 2 2 2 '1 1 1
Assaults on public functionaries —8 5 —7 4 1
Vagrancy ... ... .— 4 4 11 2 3 2 S'S
Mendacity ... ... ... 4 8 4 12'- 3 6
Wilful wounding ... ... ... 5 1 18-5 300 11
Unintentional wounding ... 8 7 1
Offences against public decency .. 1 6 1 8 3 1 3
Defamation and abuse - 1 '2 1 1 1 0
Theft ... ... ... ... ... 57 5 a—4 63 54 3
Frauds on refreshment-house keepers —1 2 1 —1 6
Swindling 5 1 2 2.4 3 +2
Breach of confidence ... ... 9 1 3 7 1 2
Injury to crops and plants ... 5 —3 —3 5
Game-law offences .. ... .— 15 1 14 2 1 l —2
Total of accused

Here we have a statistical demonstration of a more frequent
precocity, amongst various forms of criminality, in respect of
inborn tendencies (murder and homicide, rape, incendiarism,
specific thefts), or in respect of tendencies contracted by habit
(simple theft, mendacity, vagrancy).

Also this characteristic of precocity is accompanied by that of
relapse, which accordingly we have seen to be more frequent in the
same forms of natural criminality, and which we can now tabulate
in respect of its persistency in these born and habitual

It has been well said that the large number of relapsed persons
who are brought to trial year after year proves that thieves ply
their trade as a regular calling; the thief who has once tasted
prison life is sure to return to it.[8] And again, there are very
few cases in which a man or a woman who has turned thief ceases to
be one. Whatever the reason may be, as a matter of fact the thief
is rarely or never reformed. When you can turn an old thief into
an honest worker, you may turn an old fox into a house dog.[9]

[8] Quarterly Review, 1871, "The London Police.''
[9] Thomson, "The Psychology of Criminals,'' Journal of Mental
Science, 1870.

We must, however, read these testimonies of practical men, which
could easily be multiplied, in the light of our distinction
between incorrigible criminals, who are so from their birth, and
such as are made incorrigible by the effect of their prison and
social environment. The former could scarcely be reduced in
number, whilst the latter could be considerably diminished
by the penal alternatives of which I will speak later.

The following statistics of relapse are quoted from Yvernes,
"La Recidive en Europe'' (Paris, 1874):—

Relapses ENGLAND—1871. SWEDEN—1871. Accused Accused
Prisoners. Thieves. and brought and brought
to trial. to trial.
Once ... ... 38 per cent. 54 per cent. 45 per cent. 60 per cent.
Twice ... 18 '' 28 '' 20 '' 30 ''
Three times... 44 '' 18 '' 35 '' 10 ''

In Prussia (1878-82), 17 per cent. had relapsed once, 16 per cent.
twice, 16 per cent. three times, 13 per cent. four times, 10 per
cent five times, and 28 per cent. six times or oftener.[10]

[10] Starke, "Verbrechen und Verbrecher,'' Berlin, 1884, p. 229.

At the Prisons Congress of Stockholm the following figures were
given for Scotland. Out of a total of forty-nine relapsed
prisoners, 16 per cent. had relapsed once, 13 per cent. twice or
three times, 6 per cent. four or five times, 6 per cent. from six
to ten times, 5 per cent. from ten to twenty times, 4 per cent.
from twenty to fifty times, and 1 per cent. more than fifty times.

At the meeting of the Social Science Congress, held at Liverpool,
in 1876, Mr. Nugent stated that upwards of 4,107 women had
relapsed four times or oftener, and that many of them were classed
as incorrigible, having been convicted twenty; forty, or fifty
times, whilst one had been convicted 130 times.

The judicial statistics of Italy for 1887 give the following

ITALY—Convicted, per cent. Relapses.
Justices of Tribunals. Assizes.
Once ... ... ... ... 57 42 50
Two to five times ... 34 40 40
More than five times ... 9 18 10
Actual totals of relapses 27,068 16,240 1,870

I have found from my inquiries amongst 346 condemned to penal
servitude and 353 prisoners from the correctional tribunals the
following percentages:—

Relapsed. Convicts Imprisoned.
Once ... ... 83.2 ... ... 26
Twice ... ... 12.5 ... ... 16.5
3 times ... ... 3.1 ... ... ... 14.6
4 '' ... ... — ... ... ... 10.8
5 '' ... ... 6.8 ... ... ... 6.6
6 '' ... ... — ... ... ... 5.2
7 '' ... ... 1.6 ... ... ... 7.1
8 '' ... ... — ... ... ... 2.8
9 '' ... ... — ... ... ... 2.8
10 '' ... ... — ... ... ... 2.3
11 '' ... ... — ... ... ... .9
12 '' ... ... — ... ... ... .5
13 '' ... ... — ... ... ... .9
14 '' ... ... — ... ... ... 1.4
15 '' ... ... — ... ... ... .9
20 '' ... ... — ... ... ... .5
Actual totals of relapses 128 212

Chronic relapse is naturally less frequent in the case of those
condemned to long terms; but it is a conspicuous symptom of
individual and social pathology in the two classes of born and
habitual criminals.

Lombroso, in the second volume of his work on "The Criminal,''
denies that precocity and relapse are characteristics
distinguishing born and habitual from occasional criminals. But
it is only a question of terms. He considers that born and
habitual criminals confine themselves almost exclusively to
serious crime, and occasional criminals to minor offences. And as
the figures which I have given show that precocity and relapse are
even more frequent for minor offences than for crimes, he thinks
that they contradict instead of confirming my conclusions.

The mere seriousness of an act cannot by any means divide the
categories of criminals; for homicide as well as theft, assault
and battery as well as forgery, may be committed, though in
different psychological and social conditions, as easily by born
and habitual criminals as by occasional criminals and criminals of

Moreover, the figures which I have given show that precocity and
relapse are more frequent in the forms of criminality which, apart
from their gravity, are the common practices of born and habitual
criminals, such as murder, homicide, robbery, rape, &c., whilst
they are far more uncommon, even if they can be said to be
observed at all, in the case of the crimes and offences usually
committed by occasional criminals, such as infanticide, and
certain of the offences mentioned above.

It remains to say something of the occasional criminals, and the
criminals of passion.

The latter are but a variety of the occasional criminals, but
their characteristics are so specific that they may be very
readily distinguished. In fact Lombroso, in his second edition,
supplementing the observations of Despine and Bittinger, separated
them from other criminals, and classified them according to their
symptoms. I need only summarise his observations.

In the first place, the criminals who constitute the strongly
marked class of criminals by irresistible impulse are very rare,
and their crimes are almost invariably against the person. Thus,
out of 71 criminals of passion inquired into by Lombroso, 69 were
homicides, 6 had in addition been convicted of theft, 3 of
incendiarism, and 1 of rape.

It may be shown that they number about 5 per cent. of crimes
against the person.

They are as a rule persons of previous good behaviour, sanguine or
nervous by temperament, of excessive sensibility, unlike born or
habitual criminals, and they are often of a neurotic or epileptoid
temperament, of which their crimes may be, strictly speaking, an
unrecognised consequence.

Frequently they transgress in their youth, especially in the case
of women, under stress of a passion which suddenly spurns
constraint, like anger, or outraged love, or injured honour. They
are highly emotional before, during, or after the crime, which
they do not commit treacherously, but openly, and often by ill-
chosen methods, the first that present themselves. Now and then,
however, one encounters criminals of passion who premeditate a
crime, and carry it out treacherously, either by reason of
their colder and less impulsive temperament, or as the outcome of
preconceived ideas or a widespread sentiment, in cases where we
have to do with a popular form of lawlessness, such as the

This is why the test of premeditation has no absolute value in
criminal psychology, as a distinction between the born criminal
and the criminal of passion; for premeditation depends especially
on the temperament of the individual, and is exemplified in crimes
committed by both anthropological types.

Amongst other symptoms of the criminal of passion, there is also
the precise motive which leads to a crime complete in itself, and
never as a means of attaining another criminal purpose.

These offenders immediately acknowledge their crime, with
unassumed remorse, frequently so keen that they instantly commit,
or attempt to commit suicide. When convicted—as they seldom are
by a jury—they are always repentant prisoners, and amend their
lives, or do not become degraded, so that in this way they
encourage superficial observers to affirm as a general fact, and
one possible in all circumstances, that ameliorative effect of
imprisonment which is really a mere illusion in the case of the
far more numerous classes of born and habitual criminals.

In these same offenders we very rarely observe, if at all, the
organic anomalies which create a criminal type. And even the
psychological characteristics are much slighter in countries where
certain crimes of passion are endemic, almost ranking
amongst the customs of the community, like the homicides which
occur in Corsica and Sardinia for the vindication of honour, or
the political assassinations in Russia and Ireland.

The last class is that of occasional criminals, who without any
inborn and active tendency to crime lapse into crime at an early
age through the temptation of their personal condition, and of
their physical and social environment, and who do not lapse into
it, or do not relapse, if these temptations disappear.

Thus they commit those crimes and offences which do not indicate
natural criminality, or else crimes and offences against person or
property, but under personal and social conditions altogether
different from those in which they are committed by born and
habitual criminals.

There is no doubt that, even with the occasional criminal, some of
the causes which lead him into crime belong to the anthropological
class; for external causes would not suffice without individual
predispositions. For instance, during a scarcity or a hard
winter, not all of those who experience privation have recourse to
theft, but some prefer to endure want, however undeserved, without
ceasing to be honest, whilst others are at the utmost driven to
beg their food; and amongst those who yield to the suggestion of
crime, some stop short at simple theft, whilst others go as far as
robbery with violence.

But the true difference between the born and the occasional
criminal is that, with the former, the external cause is
less operative than the internal tendency, because this tendency
possesses, as it were, a centrifugal force, driving the individual
to commit crime, whilst, for the occasional criminal, it is rather
a case of feeble power of resistance against external causes, to
which most of the inducement to crime is due.

The casual provocation of crime in the born criminal is generally
the outcome of an instinct or tendency already existing, and far
more of a pretext than an occasion of crime. With the occasional
criminal, on the other hand, it is the casual provocation which
matures, no doubt in a favouring soil, the growth of criminal
tendencies not previously developed.

For this reason Lombroso calls the occasional criminals
"criminaloids,'' in order to show precisely that they have a
distinctly abnormal constitution, though in a less degree than the
born criminals, just as we have the metal and the metalloid, the
epileptic and the epileptoid.

And this, again, is the reason why Lombroso's criticisms on my
description of occasional criminals are lacking in force. He
says, as Benedikt said at the Congress at Rome, that all criminals
are criminals by birth, so that there is no such thing as an
occasional criminal, in the sense of a NORMAL individual
casually launched into crime. But I have not, any more than
Garofalo, drawn such a picture of the occasional criminal, for as
a matter of fact I have said precisely the opposite, as indeed
Lombroso himself acknowledges a little further on (ii. 422),
namely, that between the born and the occasional criminal
there is only a difference of degree and modality, as in all the
criminal classes.

To cite a few details of criminal psychology, it may be stated
that of the two physiological conditions of crime, moral
insensibility and improvidence, occasional crime is especially due
to the latter, and inborn and habitual crime to the former. With
the born criminal it is, above all, the lack or the weakness of
moral sense which fails to withstand crime, whereas with the
occasional criminal the moral sense is almost normal, but
inability to realise beforehand the consequences of his act causes
him to yield to external influences.

Every man, however pure and honest he may be, is conscious now and
then of a transitory notion of some dishonest or criminal action.
But with the honest man, exactly because he is physically and
morally normal, this notion of crime, which simultaneously summons
up the idea of its grievous consequences, glances off the surface
of the normal conscience, and is a mere flash without the thunder.
With the man who is less normal and has less forethought, the
notion dwells, resists the weak repulsion of a not too vigorous
moral sense, and finally prevails; for, as Victor Hugo says,
"Face to face with duty, to hesitate is to be lost.''[11]

[11] For instance, I will recall a fact which Morel has related of
himself, how one day, as he was crossing a bridge in Paris, he saw
a working-man gazing into the water, and a homicidal idea flashed
across his mind, so that he had to hurry away, for fear of
yielding to the temptation to throw the man into the water.

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse