The aspect of criminology and the study of the subject was started by Cesare Lombroso, hence his title of being the father of criminology. Through critical analysis, Lombroso came up with different crime theories and particularly addressed crime among women. While he played a role in defining modern-day criminology and the practices related to the subject, he created a ripple effect that dissected his work. According to the Lombroso’s theory of criminology, it is believed that crime and criminality were carried from one generation to another through inheritance and that specific physical defects identify criminals in the society, otherwise referred to as atavistic nature or savagery.
Most people have misinterpreted the Lombrosian theory. Most of them claim that he bent data to fit his narrative and created theories like that of atavism that defines crime as a hereditary practice for savages. Due to such perception, Lombroso is now known as the father of modern criminology, who might have been misinterpreted throughout his time. I agree that while Lombroso contributed significantly to the unit of criminology and helped fight crime, he was mostly misinterpreted due to different people interpreting his data and findings differently.
Cesare Lombroso can be remembered as the person who set up the subject of criminology and helped structure the crime and investigation department. Lombroso started his contributions in the field of criminology by publishing his first book named “L’uomo delinquente” in the year 1876. In the book, Lombroso talks about his perception of crime, arguing that both physical and biological alterations describe criminals and non-offenders. According to Knepper and Ystehede (2013, p. 11), Lombroso’s theory on crime about the “atavistic” nature of criminals provides a new dimension to crime and how we understand it. According to Lombroso, the theory of atavism holds that people who engage in criminal activates are savages who are primitive and backward. The theory asserts that criminals are not normal human beings as their biological and physical set up alters their approach to society. It was also argued that Lombroso’s theories were acceptable to the public and his description of the criminal man “fit perfectly with then-current hierarchies of gender, race, sexuality, social class, and physical ability.” Gibson and Rafter (2006, p. 171). The theory was highly regarded, and it played a role in establishing the criminology department. However, Lombroso’s theory of atavism and other ideologies of his work started facing critical scrutiny in the 19th century, creating the notion that Lombroso’s work was highly misunderstood.
Another aspect of Lombroso’s highly misunderstood work was his methods of doing research and collecting information and data. Many scholars and researchers who have gone through Lombroso’s work claim that he had fishy ways of carrying out research that were not transparent and subject to peer review. Mary Gibson argues that he ‘bended data to fit his theories” (Gibson and Rafter, 2009, p. 139). The author asserts that while he was studying the body of a dead woman (Giuseppe Villella’s body), Lombroso was seen to hide a lot of information and bend the data to fit his theories. Since Lombroso had come up with the criminal man’s theories and how he or she was born into the character, he bent the truth in the case to match his findings. Critics imply that Lombroso worked in Italy where crimes were rampant and he interacted with the same looking criminals through which he created a profile of the “criminal man” (Beccatossi, 2010, p. 561-562). Just as explained, Lombroso’s work is highly misunderstood due to the critics that have addressed the possibility of his rigidness to share the correct data acquire from his studies and experiment. For that reason, I agree that Lombroso’s work was misinterpreted by many.
One finding that creates doubt in people that Lombroso documented was the criminal woman’s findings. After going through the woman’s case carefully, Lombroso concluded that the woman was sexually active and less intelligent, which were some of the characteristics that defined her as a criminal. According to Newburn (2017. p. 124-125), Lombroso’s findings on the criminal woman’s case are highly reviewed, based on the fact that Lombroso concluded that women were worse criminals compared to men. Just as the author explains, Lombroso made a controversial conclusion that women were likely to be criminals because feelings of vengeance drive them. The findings were criticized based on the evolution that the world has seen in women and the power that they have been given over the years. In the 19th century, it was widely believed that a woman’s biological goal was motherhood and being a good wife (Cullen & Wilcox, 2010). However, Lombroso’s theories about the criminal woman are not a representation of today’s era as women have much more freedom than they did at the time of his writings. He described the criminal woman as ‘undeveloped’ men, which goes against political correctness today. I agree that Lombroso’s work was highly misinterpreted, warranting the critics seen in the world of academics today.
Lombroso made significant contributions to the department of crime by structuring the criminology department that has helped fight crime over the decades. While the philosophers’ theories contributed to the department’s creation, they also became a subject of criticism. In his work, Lombroso made studies and experiments on criminals, how they behaved, what they loved to do, and how they were similar. Through careful examination of criminals, Lombroso concluded that they were inherited and they also harbored unique physical features. Although they were great contributions to criminology, Lombroso’s theories were vastly criticized. Nevertheless, some ideas rooted in his work are alive today, as there is a belief that there might be physical characteristics that can contribute to criminal behavior, which can be seen in the nature vs. nurture debate in criminology. Lombroso’s work contributed highly to the establishment of criminology. While he may not have carried out his work and research in a conventional way, he was highly misinterpreted in his findings and general work.
The work that Lombroso did mostly revolved around crime, especially for women. The scholar managed to go through different cases, experiments and other forms of knowledge acquisition, making him an individual with immense knowledge in the field. For that reason, it is important to note that it is possible that most of Lombroso’s work was indeed misinterpreted. First, Lombroso’s thoughts and ideas on women in crime did not sit down well with critics. According to Lombroso, women were likely to get involved in crime because they were creatures that were driven by vengeance. In my opinion, Lombroso was misunderstood in this case, as I am sure he meant that emotions play a role in influencing crime. Essentially, Lombroso came to the conclusion that since women were thought to be the weaker gender, they were more likely to get in trouble because they could not control their emotions. However, those facts as tabled by Lombroso are rubbished in today’s society due to the empowerment that women have received over the years. In the past, women were not valued, and their opinions did not count. For that reason, it was easy for women to be subject to assumptions that continue to be deciphered in modern criminology and society. Due to the fact that women are valued and respected today, it is impossible for an individual o believe Lombroso’s assertion that women were in fact weaker genders and are bound to get into crime compared to their male counterparts.
Lombroso believed that criminals had special physical features that identified them, and he asserted that criminals were born into crime with common physical features. Since Lombroso spent his time with all types of criminals, he took his time to profile them. Through the profiles, he managed to come up with a solution to finding and identifying criminals. He came to the conclusion that criminals had similar physical features like being left-handed. Due to such assertions, critics believe that the work of Lombroso was not clear, the critics believe that Lombroso provided the public with information that he could not explain. Such antics have provided a lengthy streak of criticism on his work and his ideologies on crime and criminals. Today, Lombroso’s work is under criticism because of the assumptions that people believe Lombroso made. For example, I understand that people may be infuriated based on the fact that Lombroso casually called individuals out as criminals based on certain physical features. Additionally, his work continues to face negative review since his work acts more like an attack on human beings rather than a corrective measure. Thus, I believe that the work of Lombroso was done effectively, and he contributed critically to the field of criminology, hoever, he is being discredited because of the misinterpretation sthat can easily be explained.
Beccalossi, C. (2010) Lombroso, Cesare: The criminal man. In F, Cullen, & P. Wilcox (eds) Enciclopedia of criminal theory. (pp 561 -566).
Cullen, F.T., and Wilcox, P. eds., 2010. Encyclopedia of criminological theory (Vol. 1). Sage
Gibson M. and Rafter, N H. (2009) Cesare Lombroso, Criminal Man. Durham and London: Duke university press. Durham and London: Duke university press.
Knepper, P., and Ystehede, P. eds., 2013. The Cesare Lombroso Handbook. Routledge.
Newburn, T. (2017). ‘Classicism and Positivism,’ in Criminology (3rd ed.), UK, Oxon: Routledge, pp 123-142.