The Positive School of Criminology - Three Lectures Given at the University of Naples, Italy on April 22, 23 and 24, 1901
by Enrico Ferri
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In this way the classic school of criminology came to its unit of punishment, which it heralded as its great progress. In the Middle Ages, the diversity of punishment was greater. But in the 19th century the classic school of criminology combatted dishonoring punishment, corporeal punishment, confiscation, professional punishment, capital punishment, with its ideal of one sole penalty, the only panacea for crime and criminals, prison.

We have, indeed, prohibitory measures and fines even today. But in substance the whole punitive armory is reduced to imprisonment, since fines are likewise convertible into so many days or months of imprisonment. Solitary confinement is the ideal of the classic school of criminology. But experience proves that this penalty has as much effect on the disease of criminality, as the remedy of a physician would have, who would sit in the door of a hospital and tell every patient seeking relief: "Whatever may be your disease, I have only one medicine and that is a decoction of rhubarb. You have heart trouble? Well, then, the problem for me is simply—how big a dose of rhubarb decoction shall I give you?"

And measuring doses of penalty is the foundation of the criminal code. That is so true that this code is in its last analysis but a table of criminal logarithms for figuring out penalties. Woe to the judge who makes a mistake in sentencing a 19 year old offender who was drunk when he sinned, but had premeditated his deed. Woe to the judge, if he misses his calculation in adding or subtracting the third, or sixth, or one half, corresponding to the prescribed extenuating or aggravating circumstances! If he makes a miscalculation, the court of appeals is invoked by the defendant, and the inexorable court of appeals tells the judge: "Figure this over again. You have been unjust." The only question for the judge is this: Add your sums and subtract your deductions, and the prisoner is sentenced to one year, seven months, and thirteen days. Not one day more or less! But the human spectator asks: "If the criminal should happen to be reformed before the expiration of his term, should he be retained in prison?" The judge replies: "I don't care, he stays in one year, seven months, and thirteen days!"

Then the human spectator says: "But suppose the criminal should not yet be fit for human society at the expiration of his term?" The judge replies: "At the expiration of his term he leaves prison, for when he has absolved his last day, he has paid his debt!"

This is the same case as that of the imaginary physician who says: "You have heart trouble? Then take a quart of rhubarb decoction and stay twelve days in the hospital." Another patient says: "I have broken my leg." And the doctor: "All right, take a pint of rhubarb decoction and 17 days in the hospital." A third has inflammation of the lungs, and the doctor prescribes three quarts of rhubarb decoction and three months in the hospital. "But if my inflammation is cured before that time?" "No matter," says the doctor, "you stay in three months." "But if I am not cured of my lung trouble after three months?" "No matter," says the doctor, "you leave after three months."

To such results have wise men been led by a system of penal justice, which is a denial of all elementary common sense. They have forgotten the personality of the criminal and occupied themselves exclusively with crime as an abstract juristic phenomenon. In the same manner, the old style medicine occupied itself with disease as such, as an abstract pathological phenomenon, without taking into account the personality of the patient. The ancient physicians did not consider whether a patient was well or ill nourished, young or old, strong or weak, nervous or fullblooded. They cured fever as fever, pleurisy as pleurisy. Modern medicine, on the other hand, declares that disease must be studied in the living person of the patient. And the same disease may require different treatment, if the condition of the patient is different.

Criminal justice has taken the same historical course of development as medicine. The classic school of criminology is still in the same stage, in which medicine was before the middle of the 19th century. It deals with theft, murder, fraud, as such. But that which claims so much of the attention of society has been forgotten by the classic school. For that school has forgotten to study the murderer, the thief, the forger, and without that study their crimes cannot be understood.

Crime is one of the conditions required for the study of the criminal. But, the same crime may require the application of different remedies to the personalities of different criminals, according to the different anthropological and social conditions of the various criminals. There is a fundamental distinction between the anthropological and social types of criminals, whom I have divided into five categories, which are today unanimously accepted by criminalist anthropologists, since the Geneva congress offered an opportunity to explain the misapprehension which led some foreign scientists to believe that the Italian school regarded one of these types (the born criminal) merely as an organic anomaly.

Just a word concerning each one of these five types.

The born criminal is a victim of that which I will call (seeing that science has not yet solved this problem) criminal neurosis, which is very analogous to epileptic neurosis, but which is not in itself sufficient to make one a criminal. Our adversaries had the idea that the mere possession of a crooked nose or a slanting skull stamped a man as predisposed by birth to murder or theft. But a man may he a born criminal, that is to say, he may have some congenital degeneration which predisposes him toward crime, and yet he may die at the age of 80 without having committed any crime, because he was fortunate enough to live in an environment which did not offer him any temptation to commit crime. Again, are not many predisposed toward insanity without ever becoming insane? If the same individual were to live under unfavorable conditions, without any education, if he were to find himself in unhealthy telluric surroundings, in a mine, a rice field, or a miasmatic swamp, he would become insane. But if instead of living in conditions that condemn him to lunacy he were to be under no necessity to struggle for his daily bread, if he could live in affluence, he might exhibit some eccentricity of character, but would not cross the threshold of an insane asylum. The same happens in the case of criminality. One may have a congenital predisposition toward crime, but if he lives in favorable surroundings, he will live to the end of his natural life without violating any criminal or moral law. At any rate we must drop the prejudice that only those are criminals on whose backs the judge has pasted a number. For there are many scoundrels at large who commit crime with impunity, or who brush the edge of the criminal law in the most repulsive immorality without violating it.

This misunderstanding was explained at the congress of Geneva by the statement that the interaction of the social and telluric environment is required also in the case of the born criminal. And now we may take it for granted that my classification of five types is everywhere accepted. These are the following: The born criminal who has a congenital predisposition for crime; the insane criminal suffering from some clinical form of mental alienation, and whom even our existing penal code had to recognize; the habitual criminal, that is to say one who has acquired the habit of crime mainly through the ineffective measures employed by society for the prevention and repression of crime. A common figure in our large industrial centers is that of the abandoned child which has to go begging from its earliest youth in order to collect an income for the enterprising boss or for its poor family, without an opportunity to educate its moral sense in the filth of the streets. It is punished for the first time by the law and sent to prison or to a reformatory, where it is inevitably corrupted. Then, when such an individual comes out of prison, he is stigmatized as a thief or forger, watched by the police, and if he secures work in some shop, the owner is indirectly induced to discharge him, so that he must inevitably fall back upon crime.

Thus one acquires crime as a habit, a product of social rottenness, due to the ineffective measures for the prevention and repression of crime. There is furthermore the occasional criminal, who commits very insignificant criminal acts, more because he is led astray by his conditions of life than because the aggressive energy of a degenerate personality impels him. If he is not made worse by a prison life, he may find an opportunity to return to a normal life in society. Finally there is the passionate criminal, who, like the insane criminal, has received attention from the positive school of criminology; which, however, did not come to any definite conclusions regarding him, such as may be gathered by means of the experimental method through study in prisons, insane asylums, or in freedom. The relations between passion and crime have so far been studied on a field in which no solution was possible. For the classic school considers such a crime according to the greater or smaller intensity and violence of passion and comes to the conclusion that the degree of responsibility decreases to the extent that the intensity of a passion increases, and vice versa. The problem cannot be solved in this way. There are passions which may rise to the highest degree of intensity without reducing the responsibility. For instance, is one who murders from motives of revenge a passionate criminal who must be excused?

The classic school of criminology says "No," and for my part I agree with them. Francesco Carrara says: "There are blind passions, and others which are reasonable. Blind passions deprive one of free will, reasonable ones do not. Blind and excusable passions are fear, honor, love, reasonable and inexcusable ones are hatred and revenge." But how so? I have studied murderers who killed for revenge and who told me that the desire for revenge took hold of them like a fever, so that they "forgot even to eat." Hate and revenge can take possession of a man to such an extent that he becomes blind with passion. The truth is that passion must be considered not so far as its violence or quantity are concerned, but rather as to its quality. We must distinguish between social and anti-social passion, the one favoring the conditions of life for the species and collectivity, the other antagonistic to the development of the collectivity. In the first case, we have love, injured honor, etc, which are passions normally useful to society, and aberrations of which may be excused more or less according to individual cases. On the other hand, we have inexcusable passions, because their psychological tendency is to antagonize the development of society. They are antisocial, and cannot be excused, and hate and revenge are among them.

The positive school therefore admits that a passion is excusable, when the moral sense of a man is normal, when his past record is clear, and when his crime is due to a social passion, which makes it excusable.

We shall see tomorrow what remedies the positive school of criminology proposes for each one of these categories of criminals, in distinction from the measuring of doses of imprisonment advocated by the classic school.

We have thus exhausted in a short and general review the subject of the natural origin of criminality.—To sum up, crime is a social phenomenon, due to the interaction of anthropological, telluric, and social factors. This law brings about what I have called criminal saturation, which means that every society has the criminality which it deserves, and which produces by means of its geographical and social conditions such quantities and qualities of crime as correspond to the development of each collective human group.

Thus the old saying of Imetelet is confirmed: "There is an annual balance of crime, which must be paid and settled with greater regularity than the accounts of the national revenue." However, we positivists give to this statement a less fatalistic interpretation, since we have demonstrated that crime is not our immutable destiny, even though it is a vain beginning to attempt to attenuate or eliminate crime by mere schemes. The truth is that the balance of crime is determined by the physical and social environment. But by changing the condition of the social environment, which is most easily modified, the legislator may alter the influence of the telluric environment and the organic and psychic conditions of the population, control the greater portion of crimes, and reduce them considerably. It is our firm conviction that a truly civilized legislator can attenuate the plague of criminality, not so much by means of the criminal code, as by means of remedies which are latent in the remainder of the social life and of legislation. And the experience of the most advanced countries confirms this by the beneficent and preventive influence of criminal legislation resting on efficacious social reforms.

We arrive, then, at this scientific conclusion: In the society of the future, the necessity for penal justice will be reduced to the extent that social justice grows intensively and extensively.


In the preceding two lectures, I have given you a short review of the new current in scientific thought, which studies the painful and dangerous phenomena of criminality. We must now draw the logical conclusions, in theory and practice, from the teachings of experimented science, for the removal of the gangrenous plague of crime. Under the influence of the positive methods of research, the old formula "Science for science's sake" has given place to the new formula "Science for life's sake." For it would be useless for the human mind to retreat into the vault of philosophical concentration, if this intellectual mastery did not produce as a counter-effect a beneficent wave of real improvement in the destinies of the human race.

What, then, has the civilized world to offer in the way of remedies against criminality? The classic school of criminology, being unable to locate in the course of its scientific and historical mission the natural causes of crime, as I have shown in the preceding lectures, was not in a position to deal in a comprehensive and far-seeing manner with this problem of the remedy against criminality. Some of the classic criminologists, such as Bentham, Romagnosi, or Ellero, with a more positive bent of mind than others, may have given a little of their scientific activity to the analysis of this problem, namely the prevention of crime. But Ellero himself had to admit that "the classic school of criminology has written volumes concerning the death penalty and torture, but has produced but a few pages on the prevention of criminality." The historical mission of that school consisted in a reduction of punishment. For being born on the eve of the French revolution in the name of individualism and natural rights, it was a protest against the barbarian penalties of the Middle Ages. And thus the practical and glorious result of the classic school was a propaganda for the abolition of the most brutal penalties of the Middle Ages, such as the death penalty, torture, mutilation. We in our turn now follow up the practical and scientific mission of the classic school of criminology with a still more noble and fruitful mission by adding to the problem of the diminution of penalties the problem of the diminution of crimes. It is worth more to humanity to reduce the number of crimes than to reduce the dread sufferings of criminal punishments, although even this is a noble work, after the evil plant of crime has been permitted to grow in the realm of life. Take, for instance, the philanthropic awakening due to the Congress of Geneva in the matter of the Red Cross Society, for the care, treatment and cure of the wounded in war. However noble and praiseworthy this mission may be, it would be far nobler and better to prevent war than to heal the mutilated and wounded. If the same zeal and persistence, which have been expended in the work of the Red Cross Society, had been devoted to the realization of international brotherhood, the weary road of human progress would show far better results.

It is a noble mission to oppose the ferocious penalties of the Middle Ages. But it is still nobler to forestall crime. The classic school of criminology directed its attention merely to penalties, to repressive measures after crime had been committed, with all its terrible moral and material consequences. For in the classic school, the remedies against criminality have not the social aim of improving human life, but merely the illusory mission of retributive justice, meeting a moral delinquency by a corresponding punishment in the shape of legal sentences. This is the spirit which is still pervading criminal legislation, although there is a sort of eclectic compromise between the old and the new. The classic school of criminology has substituted for the old absolutist conceptions of justice the eclectic theory that absolute justice has the right to punish, but a right modified by the interests of civilized life in present society. This is the point discussed in Italy in the celebrated controversy between Pasquale Stanislao Mancini and Terencio Mamiani, in 1847. This is in substance the theory followed by the classic criminologists who revised the penal code, which public opinion considers incapable of protecting society against the dangers of crime. And we have but to look about us in the realities of contemporaneous life in order to see that the criminal code is far from being a remedy against crime, that it remedies nothing, because either premeditation or passion in the person of the criminal deprive the criminal law of all prohibitory power. The deceptive faith in the efficacy of criminal law still lives in the public mind, because every normal man feels that the thought of imprisonment would stand in his way, if he contemplated tomorrow committing a theft, a rape, or a murder. He feels the bridle of the social sense. And the criminal code lends more strength to it and holds him back from criminal actions. But even if the criminal code did not exist, he would not commit a crime, so long as his physical and social environment would not urge him in that direction. The criminal code serves only to isolate temporarily from social intercourse those who are not considered worthy of it. And this punishment prevents the criminal for a while from repeating his criminal deed. But it is evident that the punishment is not imposed until after the deed has been done. It is a remedy directed against effects, but it does not touch the causes, the roots, of the evil.

We may say that in social life penalties have the same relation to crime that medicine has to disease. After a disease has developed in an organism, we have recourse to a physician. But he cannot do anything else but to reach the effects in some single individual. On the other hand, if the individual and the collectivity had obeyed the rules of preventive hygiene, the disease would have been avoided 90 times in 100, and would have appeared only in extreme and exceptional cases, where a wound or an organic condition break through the laws of health. Lack of providence on the part of man, which is due to insufficient expression of the forces of the intellect and pervades so large a part of human life, is certainly to blame for the fact that mankind chooses to use belated remedies rather than to observe the laws of health, which demand a greater methodical control of one's actions and more foresight, because the remedy must be applied before the disease becomes apparent. I say occasionally that human society acts in the matter of criminality with the same lack of forethought that most people do in the matter of tooth-ache. How many individuals do not suffer from tooth-ache, especially in the great cities? And yet any one convinced of the miraculous power of hygiene could easily clean his teeth every day and prevent the microbes of tooth rot from thriving, thereby saving his teeth from harm and pain. But it is tedious to do this every day. It implies a control of one's self. It cannot be done without the scientific conviction that induces men to acquire this habit. Most people say: "Oh well, if that tooth rots, I'll bear the pain." But when the night comes in which they cannot sleep for toothache, they will swear at themselves for not having taken precautions and will run to the dentist, who in most cases cannot help them any more.

The legislator should apply the rules of social hygiene in order to reach the roots of criminality. But this would require that he should bring his mind and will to bear daily on a legislative reform of individual and social life, in the field of economics and morals as well as in that of administration, politics, and intelligence. Instead of that, the legislators permit the microbes of criminality to develop their pathogenic powers in society. When crimes become manifest, the legislator knows no other remedy but imprisonment in order to punish an evil which he should have prevented. Unfortunately this scientific conviction is not yet rooted and potent in the minds of the legislators of most of the civilized countries, because they represent on an average the backward scientific convictions of one or two previous generations. The legislator who sits in parliament today was the university student of 30 years ago. With a few very rare exceptions he is supplied only with knowledge of outgrown scientific research. It is a historical law that the work of the legislator is always behind the science of his time. But nevertheless the scientist has the urgent duty to spread the conviction that hygiene is worth as much on the field of civilization as it is in medicine for the public health.

This is the fundamental conviction at which the positive school arrives: That which has happened in medicine will happen in criminology. The great value of practical hygiene, especially of social hygiene, which is greater than that of individual hygiene, has been recognized after the marvelous scientific discoveries concerning the origin and primitive causes of the most dangerous diseases. So long as Pasteur and his disciples had not given to the world their discovery of the pathogenic microbes of all infectious diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis, etc, more or less absurd remedies were demanded of the science of medicine. I remember, for instance, that I was compelled in my youth, during an epidemic of cholera, to stay in a closed room, in which fumigation was carried on with substances irritating the bronchial tubes and lungs without killing the cholera microbes, as was proved later on. It was not until the real causes of those infectious diseases were discovered, that efficient remedies could be employed against them. An aqueduct given to a center of population like Naples is a better protection against cholera than drugs, even after the disease has taken root in the midst of the people of Naples. This is the modern lesson which we wish to teach in the field of criminology, a field which will always retain its repressive functions as an exceptional and ultimate refuge, because we do not believe that we shall succeed in eliminating all forms of criminality. Hence, if a crime manifests itself, repression may be employed as one of the remedies of criminology, but it should be the very last, not the exclusively dominating one, as it is today.

It is this blind worship of punishment which is to blame for the spectacle which we witness in every modern country, the spectacle that the legislators neglect the rules of social hygiene and wake up with a start when some form of crime becomes acute, and that they know of no better remedy than an intensification of punishment meeted out by the penal code. If one year of imprisonment is not enough, we'll make it ten years, and if an aggravation of the ordinary penalty is not enough, we'll pass a law of exception. It is always the blind trust in punishment which remains the only remedy of the public conscience and which always works to the detriment of morality and material welfare, because it does not save the society of honest people and strikes without curing those who have fallen a prey to guilt and crime.

The positive school of criminology, then, aside from the greater value attributed to daily and systematic measures of social hygiene for the prevention of criminality, comes to radically different conclusions also in the matter of repressive justice. The classic school has for a cardinal remedy against crime a preference for one kind of punishment, namely imprisonment, and gives fixed and prescribed doses of this remedy. It is the logical conclusion of retributive justice that it travels by way of an illusory purification from moral guilt to the legal responsibility of the criminal and thence on to a corresponding dose of punishment, which has been previously prescribed and fixed.

We, on the other hand, hold that even the surviving form of repression, which will be inevitable in spite of the application of the rules of social prevention, should be widely different, on account of the different conception which we have of crime and of penal justice.

In the majority of cases composed of minor crimes committed by people belonging to the most numerous and least dangerous class of occasional or passionate criminals, the only form of civil repression will be the compensation of the victim for his loss. According to us, this should he the only form of penalty imposed in the majority of minor crimes committed by people who are not dangerous. In the present practice of justice the compensation of the victim for his loss has become a laughing stock, because this victim is systematically forgotten. The whole attention of the classic school has been concentrated on the juridical entity of the crime. The victim of the crime has been forgotten, although this victim deserves philanthropic sympathy more than the criminal who has done the harm. It is true, every, judge adds to the sentence the formula that the criminal is responsible for the injury and the costs to another authority. But the process of law puts off this compensation to an indefinite time, and if the victim succeeds a few years after the passing of the sentence in getting any action on the matter, the criminal has in the meantime had a thousand legal subterfuges to get away with his spoils. And thus the law itself becomes the breeding ground of personal revenge, for Filangieri says aptly that an innocent man grasps the dagger of the murderer, when the sword of justice does not defend him.

Let us say at this point that the rigid application of compensation for damages should never be displaced by imprisonment, because this would be equivalent to sanctioning a real class distinction, for the rich can laugh at damages, while the proletarian would have to make good a sentence of 1000 lire by 100 days in prison, and in the meantime the innocent family that tearfully waits for him outside, would be plunged into desperate straits. Compensation for damages should never take place in any other way than by means of the labor of the prisoner to an extent satisfactory to the family of the injured. It has been attempted to place this in an eclectic way on our law books, but this proposition remains a dead letter and is not applied in Italy, because a stroke of legislator's pen is not enough to change the fate of an entire nation.

These practical and efficient measures would be taken in the case of lesser criminals. For the graver crimes committed by atavistic or congenital criminals, of by persons inclining toward crime from acquired habit or mental alienation, the positive school of criminology reserves segregation for an indefinite time, for it is absurd to fix the time beforehand in the case of a dangerous degenerate who has committed a grave crime.

The question of indeterminate sentences has been recently discussed also by Pessina, who combats it, of course, because the essence of the classic school of criminology is retribution for a fault by means of corresponding punishment. We might reply that no human judge can use any other but the grossest scale by which to determine whether you are responsible to the extent of the whole, one half, or one third. And since there is no absolute or objective criterion by which the ratio of crime to punishment can be determined, penal justice becomes a game of chance. But we content ourselves by pointing out that segregation for an indefinite time has so much truth in it, that even the most orthodox of the classic school admit it, for instance in the case of criminals under age. Now, if an indeterminate sentence is a violation of the principles of the classic school, I cannot understand why it can be admitted in the case of minors, but not in the case of adults. This is evidently an expedient imposed by the exigencies of practical life, and only the positive school of criminology can meet them by a logical systematization. For the rest, indefinite segregation, such as we propose for the most dangerous atavistic criminals, is a measure which is already in use for ordinary lunatics as well us for criminal lunatics. But it may be said that this is an administrative measure, not a court sentence. Well, if any one is so fond of formulas as to make this objection, he may get all the fun out of them that he likes. But it is a fact that an insane person who has committed a crime is sent to a building with iron bars on its gates such as a prison has. You may call it an administrative building or a penal institute, the name is unessential, for the substance alone counts. We maintain that congenital or pathological criminals cannot be locked up for a definite term in any institution, but should remain there until they are adapted for the normal life of society.

This radical reform of principles carries with it a radical transformation of details. Given an indeterminate segregation, there should be organs of guardianship for persons so secluded, for instance permanent committees for the periodical revision of sentences. In the future, the criminal judge will always secure ample evidence to prove whether a defendant is really guilty, for this is the fundamental point. If it is certain that he has committed the crime, he should either be excluded from social intercourse or sentenced to mate good the damage, provided the criminal is not dangerous and the crime not grave. It is absurd to sentence a man to five or six days imprisonment for some insignificant misdemeanor. You lower him in the eyes of the public, subject him to surveillance by the police, and send him to prison from whence he will go out more corrupted than he was on entering it. It is absurd to impose segregation in prison for small errors. Compensation for injuries is enough. For the segregation of the graver criminals, the management must be as scientific as it is now in insane asylums. It is absurd to place an old pensioned soldier or a hardened bureaucrat at the head of a penal institution. It is enough to visit one of those compulsory human beehives and to see how a military discipline carries a brutal hypocrisy into it. The management of such institutions must be scientific, and the care of their inmates must be scientific, since a grave crime is always a manifestation of the pathological condition of the individual. In America there are already institutions, such as the Elmira Reformatory, where the application of the methods of the positive school of criminology has been solemnly promised. The director of the institution is a psychologist, a physician. When a criminal under age is brought in, he is studied from the point of view of physiology and psychology. The treatment serves to regenerate the plants who, being young, may still be straightened up. Scientific therapeutics can do little for relapsed criminals. The present repression of crime robs the prisoner of his personality and reduces him to a number, either in mass imprisonment which corrupts him completely, or in solitary confinement, which will turn him into a stupid or raving beast.

These methods are also gradually introduced in the insane asylums. I must tell you a little story to illustrate this. When I was a professor in Pisa, eight years ago, I took my students to the penitentiaries and the asylum for the criminal insane in Montelupo, as I always used to do. Dr. Algieri, the director of this asylum, showed us among others a very interesting case. This was a man of about 45, whose history was shortly the following: He was a bricklayer living in one of the cities of Toscana. He had been a normal and honest man, a very good father, until one unlucky day came, in which a brick falling from a factory broke a part of his skull. He fell down unconscious, was picked up, carried to the hospital, and cured of his external injury, but lost both his physical and moral health. He became an epileptic.

And the lesion to which the loss of the normal function of his nervous system was due transformed him from the docile and even-tempered man that he had been into a quarrelsome and irritable individual, so that he was less regular in his work, less moral and honest in his family life, and was finally sentenced for a grave assault in a saloon brawl. He was condemned as a common criminal to I don't know how many years of imprisonment. But in prison, the exceptional conditions of seclusion brought on a deterioration of his physical and moral health, his epileptic fits became more frequent, his character grew worse. The director of the prison sent him to the asylum for the insane criminals at Montelupo, which shelters criminals suspected of insanity and insane criminals.

Dr. Algieri studied the interesting case and came to the diagnosis that there was splinter of bone in the man's brain which had not been noticed in the treatment at the hospital, and that this was the cause of the epilepsy and demoralization of the prisoner. He trepanned a portion of the skull around the old wound and actually found a bone splinter lodged in the man's brain. He removed the splinter, and put a platinum plate over the trepanned place to protect the brain. The man improved, the epileptic fits ceased, his moral condition became as normal as before, and this bricklayer (how about the free will?) was dismissed from the asylum, for he had given proofs of normal behavior for about five or six months, thanks to the wisdom of the doctor who had relieved him of the lesion which had made him epileptic and immoral. If this asylum for insane criminals had not been in existence, he would have ended in a padded cell, the same as another man whom I and my students saw a few years ago in the Ancona penitentiary. The director, an old soldier, said to me: "Professor, I shall show you a type of human beast. He is a man who passes four fifths of the year in a padded cell." After calling six attendants, "because we must be careful," we went to the cell, and I said to that director: "Please, leave this man to me. I have little faith in the existence of human beasts. Keep the attendants at a distance." "No," replied the director, "my responsibility does not permit me to do that."

But I insisted. The cell was opened, and the man came out of it really like a wild beast with bulging eyes and distorted face. But I met him with a smile and said to him kindly: "How are you?" This change of treatment immediately changed the attitude of the man. He first had a nervous fit and then broke into tears and told me his story with the eloquence of suffering. He said that he had some days in which he was not master of himself, but he recognized that he was good whenever the attacks of temper were over. Without saying so, he thus invoked the wisdom of human psychology for better treatment. There is indeed a physician in those prisons, but he treats generally only the ordinary diseases and is not familiar with special psychological knowledge. There may be exceptions, and in that case it is a lucky coincidence. But the prison doctor has also his practice outside and hurries through his prison work. "They simulate sickness in order to get out of prison," he says. And this will be so all the more that the physicians of our time have not sufficient training in psychology to enable them to do justice to the psychology of the criminal.

You must, therefore, give a scientific management to these institutions, and you will then render humane even the treatment of those grave and dangerous criminals, whose condition cannot be met by a simple compensation of the injury they have done to others.

This is the function of repression as we look upon it, an inevitable result of the positive data regarding the natural origin of crime.

We believe, in other words, that repression will play but an unimportant role in the future. We believe that every branch of legislation will come to prefer the remedies of social hygiene to those symptomatic remedies and apply them from day to day. And thus we come to the theory of the prevention of crime. Some say: "it is better to repress than to prevent." Others say: "It is better to prevent than to repress." In order to solve this conflict we must remember that there are two widely different kinds of repression. There is the immediate, direct empirical repression, which does not investigate the cause of criminality, but waits until the crime is about to be committed. That is police prevention. There is on the other hand a social prevention which has an indirect and more remote function, which does not wait until crime is about to be committed, but locates the causes of crime in poverty, abandoned children, trampdom, etc, and seeks to prevent these conditions by remote and indirect means. In Italy, prevention is anonymous with arrest. That is to say, by repression is understood only police repression. Under these circumstances, it is well to take it for granted that some of the expected crimes will be carried out, for crimes are not committed at fixed periods after first informing the police. The damage done by criminality, and especially by political and social criminality, against which police repression is particularly directed, will be smaller than that done by the abuse inseparably connected with police power. In the case of atavistic criminality, prevention does not mean handcuffing of the man who is about to commit a crime, but devising such economic and educational measures in the family and administration as will eliminate the causes of crime or attenuate them, precisely because punishment is less effective than prevention.

In other words, in order to prevent crime, we must have recourse to measures which I have called "substitutes for punishment," and which prevent, the development of crime, because they go to the source in order to do away with effects.

Bentham narrates that the postal service in England, in the 18th century, was in the hands of stage drivers, but this service was not connected with the carrying of passengers, as became the custom later. And then it was impossible to get the drivers to arrive on time, because they stopped too often at the inns. Fines were imposed, imprisonment was resorted to, yet the drivers arrived late. The penalties did not accomplish any results so long as the causes remained. Then the idea was conceived to carry passengers on the postal stages, and that stopped the drivers from being late, because whenever they made a halt, the passengers, who had an interest in arriving on time, called the drivers and did not give them much time to linger. This is an illustration of a substitute for punishment.

Another illustration. In the Middle Ages, up to the eve of our modern civilization, piracy was in vogue. Is there anything that was not tried to suppress piracy? The pirates were persecuted like wild beasts. Whenever they were caught they were condemned to the most terrible forms of death. Yet piracy continued. Then came the application of steam navigation, and piracy disappeared as by magic. And robbery and brigandage? They withstood the death penalty and extraordinary raids by soldiers. And we witness today the spectacle of a not very serious contest between the police who wants to catch a brigand, Musolino; and a brigand who does not wish to be caught.

Wherever the woods are not traversed by railroads or tramways, brigandage carries on its criminal trade. But wherever railroads and tramways exist, brigandage is a form of crime which disappears. You may insist on death penalties and imprisonment, but assault and robbery will continue, because it is connected with geographical conditions. Use on the other hand the instrument of civilization, without sentencing any one, and brigandage and robbery will disappear before its light. And if human beings in large industrial centers are herded together in tenements and slum hotels, how can a humane judge aggravate the penalties against sexual crimes? How can the sense of shame develop among people, when young and old of both sexes are crowded together in the same bed, in the same corrupted and corrupting environment, which robs the human soul of every noble spark?

I might stray pretty far, if I were to continue these illustrations of social hygiene which will be the true solution of the problem and the supreme systematic, daily humane, and bloodless remedy against the disease of criminality. However, we have not the simple faith that in the near or far future of humanity crimes can ever be wholly eradicated. Even Socialism, which looks forward to a fundamental transformation of future society on the basis of brotherhood and social justice, cannot elevate itself to the absolute and naive faith that criminality, insanity, and suicide can ever fully disappear from the earth. But it is our firm conviction that the endemic form of criminality, insanity, and suicide will disappear, and that nothing will remain of them but rare sporadic forms caused by lesion or telluric and other influences.

Since we have made the great discovery that malaria, which weighs upon so many parts in Italy, is dependent for its transmission on a certain mosquito, we have acquired the control of malarial therapeutics and are enabled to protect individuals and families effectively against malaria. But aside from this function of protecting people, there must be a social prevention, and since those malarial insects can live only in swampy districts, it is necessary to bring to those unreclaimed lands the blessing of the hoe and plow, in order to remove the cause and do away with the effects. The same problem confronts us in criminology. In the society of the future we shall undertake this work of social hygiene, and thereby we shall remove the epidemic forms of criminality. And nine-tenths of the crimes will then disappear, so that nothing will remain of them but exceptional cases. There will remain, for instance, such cases as that of the bricklayer which I mentioned, because there may always be accidents, no matter what may be the form of social organization, and nervous disorders may thus appear in certain individuals. But you can see that these would be exceptional cases of criminality, which will be easily cured under the direction of science, that will be the supreme and beneficent manager of institutes for the segregation of those who will be unfit for social intercourse. The problem of criminality will thus be solved as far as possible, because the gradual transformation of society will eliminate the swamps in which the miasma of crime may form and breed.

If we wish to apply these standards to an example which today attracts the attention of all Italy to this noble city, if we desire to carry our theories into the practice of contemporaneous life, if science is to respond to the call of life, let us throw a glance at that form of endemic criminality known as the Camorra in this city, which has taken root here just as stabbing affrays have in certain centers of Turin, and the Mafia in certain centers of Sicily. In the first place, we must not be wilfully blind to facts and refuse to see that the citizens will protect themselves, if social justice does not do so. And from that to crime there is but a shot step. But which is the swampy soil in which this social disease can spread and persist like leprosy in tin collective organism? It is the economic poverty of the masses, which lends to intellectual and moral poverty.

You have lately had in Naples a very fortunate struggle, which seems to have overcome one of the representatives of the high Camorra. But can we believe that the courageous work of a few public writers has touched the roots of the Camorra in this city? It would be self-deception to think so. For we see that plants blossom out again, even after the most destructive hurricane has passed over them.

The healing of society is not so easy, that a collective plague may be cured by the courageous acts of one or more individuals. The process is much slower and more complicated. Nevertheless these episodes are milestones of victory in the onward march of civilization, which will paralyze the historical manifestations of social criminality. Here, then, we have a city in which some hundred thousand people rise every morning and do not know how to get a living, who have no fixed occupation, because there is not enough industrial development to reach that methodical application of labor which lifted humanity out of the prehistoric forests. Truly, the human race progresses by two uplifting energies: War and labor.

In primitive and savage society, when the human personality did not know the check of social discipline, a military discipline held the members of the tribe together. But war, while useful in primitive society, loses its usefulness more and more, because it carries within itself the cancer that paralyzes it.

While war compels collective groups to submit to the co-ordinating discipline of human activity, it also decreases the respect for human life. The soldier who kills his fellow man of a neighboring nation by a stroke of his sword will easily lose the respect for the life of members of his own social group. Then the second educational energy interferes, the energy of labor, which makes itself felt at the decisive moment of prehistoric development, when the human race passes from a pastoral, hunting, and nomadic life Into an agriculture and settled life. This is the historic stage, in which the collective ownership of land and instruments of production is displaced by communal property, family property, and finally individual property. During these stages, humanity passes from individual and isolated labor in collective, associated, co-ordinated labor. The remains of the neolithic epoch show us the progress of the first workshops, in which our ancestors gathered and fashioned their primitive tools and arms. They give us an idea of associated and common labor, which then becomes the great uplifting energy, because, unlike war, it does not carry within itself a disdain or violation of the rights of others. Labor is the sole perennial energy of mankind which leads to social perfection. But if you have 100,000 persons in a city like Naples who do not enjoy the certainty and discipline of employment at methodical and common labor, you need not wonder that the uncertainty of daily life, an illfed stomach, and an anemic brain, result in the atrophy of all moral sentiment, and that the evil plant of the Camorra spreads out over everything. The processes in the law courts may attract the fleeting attention of public opinion, of legislation, of government, to the disease from which this portion of the social organism is suffering, but mere repression will not accomplish anything lasting.

The teaching of science tells us plainly that in such a case of endemic criminality social remedies must be applied to social evils. Unless the remedy of social reforms accompanies the development and protection of labor; unless justice is assured to every member of the collectivity, the courage of this or that citizen is spent in vain, and the evil plant will continue to thrive in the jungle.

Taught by the masterly and inflexible logic of facts, we come to the adoption of the scientific method in criminal research and conclude that a simple and uniform remedy like punishment is not adequate to cure such a natural and social phenomenon as crime, which has its own natural and social causes. The measures for the preservation of society against criminality must be manifold, complex and varied, and must be the outcome of persevering and systematic work on the part of legislators and citizens on the solid foundation of a systematic collective economy.

Let me take leave of you with this practical conclusion, and give my heart freedom to send to my brain a wave of fervent blood, which shall express my enduring gratitude for the reception which you have given me. Old in years, but young in spirit and energetic aspiration to every high ideal, I tender you my sincere thanks. As a man and a citizen, I thank you, because these three lectures have been for me a fountain of youth, of faith, of enthusiasm. Thanks to them I return to the other fields of my daily occupation with a greater faith in the future of my country and of humanity. To you, young Italy, I address these words of thanks, glad and honored, if my words have aroused in your soul one breath which will make you stronger and more confident in the future of civilization and social justice.


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