Beccaria, Lombroso, and Durkheims views on criminality

Lombroso, Durkheim and Beccaria have arranged for a meeting to discuss some of the challenges they face as a society. They have a concern for their livelihood. As old men they are blessed with wisdom, despite this fact, each of them is entitled to his own opinion which may be synchronous or antagonistic with the other points of view. Tolerance and mutual respect are bound to be the foundations of their discussion. As people who have done a considerable amount of work on crime as a challenge to the society, they are bound to concentrate on this subject matter. This is more so because the meeting has been arranged at a time when crime rates and violent robberies are on the rise. The venue is quiet and pleasant.

Lombroso The day has finally come. I feel greatly privileged that you have honoured this invitation.
Durkheim The pleasure is all ours, Lombroso We should thank you for the great concern you have portrayed to our society and the effort you have put to ensure that this meeting is well arranged.
Beccaria Basically, we find that our great interest in criminology and other aspects of life pulls us together. I am greatly humble to be with great people like you. Every time I am near you people, I open my mind because I believe that there is a lot to be learnt. As I have always done, I insist on respecting everyones opinion in a bid to finding a compromise. Our points of view may differ but that should not to be taken to mean that there is something personal. Let us engage in this discussion with open minds and sincerity.

(The three men take their seats and coffee is served).
Lombroso Your wisdom always manifest itself Beccaria. You have spoken well. Human beings are different in nature. We are social beings with different opinions and preferences. To live together as a society, we ought to exercise a great deal of tolerance. main reason for organizing this meeting is because of the worrying trends which I have witnessed in our society in recent times. I have been personally disturbed by the rise in crime. The mass media is constantly highlighting some of these incidents. Only the other day two men who are believed to be under the age of eighteen were caught in the process of stealing from a shop late at night. I wondered the virtues that we have inculcated into our children.

Durkheim We share the same sentiments my friend. I read the news in the press. What puzzled me most was the audacity the teenagers had to go out in the middle of the night to vandalize someones premises. It was also reported that they must have done this act severally and were on the course to becoming tough criminals.

Beccaria As the men of this generation who have skewed our interest towards criminology, it is our utmost duty to try to figure out the root cause of our problems in a bid to finding a long lasting solution.

Lombroso I think it would be better to use my theory in explaining what I believe. I have witnessed and heard many cases of crime. I felt that, while the natures of the crimes may be different, criminals fitted into three main categories. These groups are the Insane criminals, Criminaloid as well as Atavist. I felt that an Atavist may be the definition of a criminal who can transform his personality to resemble the ferocious instinct which characterized primitive humanity or inferior animals. I compared the similarities in the anatomies of apes savages as well as criminals. Their bone structures are very similar in appearance. The do not portray sensibility to pain, the have very acute sight, they are excessively idle, they tattoo, love orgies and sometimes experience a strong desire to engage in evil practices. They are not only capable of killing their victims but go ahead to mutilate its body (Lombroso, 2006). We now realize that many juveniles have been possessed with unsocial practices ranging from devil worshipping to armed robberies. Such behaviours point out to an atavist in the making. Appearance of an ape may be strongly linked to inborn criminalism. There is a possibility that some criminals may not resemble one in their appearance, some may not be able to portray some of the anatomical traits I mentioned. I have not been able to see the criminals personally and thus may not be able to judge them from their appearances but I bet if you see them you ought to look at them keenly to ascertain the basics of my theory. I feel that every individual is guided by silent laws which are always in continuous operation. These laws are more authoritative in ruling the society and surpass those which are written to govern the society. Crime may just be considered to be a natural phenomenon (Lombroso, 2006)
Beccaria You have spoken well Lombroso. Your theory has some foundations. I beg to differ with some of the aspects of a criminal you have talked about. Personally, I do not believe in inborn criminality. Engaging in crime stems from an individuals free will. I feel that human behaviour can be explained in two foundational characteristics. Rationality as well as intelligence is the foundations of a persons behaviour. Every individual can perceive himself and is bound to act in a manner that serves his interest. Every individual has the freedom as well as the right to decide what they feel is good, at least to them (Beccaria, 1963). Everybody is able to determine the course of their fate. Education or training may be necessary but individuals are driven by free will rather than spiritual phenomena (Vold G.B. et al, 2002). An individual is bound to act in a way which is bound to offer him greatest benefit at the least cost. Probably the criminals in this context felt that vandalism would best serve their interests. The society responded to their actions in a different manner, by increasing the cost associated with crime and minimizing the benefits. This is meant to deter people from engaging in crime (Vold G.B. et al, 2002).

Lombroso I strongly disagree with the concept of free will in all criminals. Some criminals engage in crime because they are possessed with drive to commit crime. Atavists are born criminals. There is nothing they can do to avoid engaging in crime. The do not have any remorse after engaging in heinous acts. I feel that it is quite normal for inferior people to engage in crime. The teenagers must have been fulfilling their atavistic desires. They are different from other members in the society. If their bodies are tattooed, then they must be outwardly exposing how they are insensitive to pain and love adornment (Lombroso, 2006).

Durkheim Do not be so assertive Lombroso. You cannot just general criminality to inferior people. Social facts are what I feel can best explain criminality. Social facts are normal with respect to social types in the course of its phase development (Durkheim, 1895). Crime does not necessarily exist in most societies or in some particular societies but it is evident in all societies. In the course of the advancement of labour divisions, two categories can be identified. They are the organic and the mechanical societies. Mechanical societies are relatively primitive. Such societies were self-sufficient, they isolated themselves from other societies and every individual within such societies was deemed to be equal to the others. They lived in similar conditions and any duty could be done by any member of the society. Organic societies are relatively more advanced and complex. Members of such societies have advanced in their skills that they carry out only particular types of duties. Crime is considered normal in mechanical societies. In every society an individual must differ to some extent from the group (Durkheim, 1895). Even a society which is constituted by saints, a people of perfect doings. Crime will not be witnessed their. However, faults which characterize ordinary people will still be present and liked to the ordinary crime (Durkheim, 1895). In such a context, behaviours which are ordinarily considered criminal will not be present but other new forms of behaviours will take their place and produce the same effects crime is causing now. Labour division in organic societies are bound to lead to confusions as far as social norms are concerned. This is bound to lead to anomies.
Lombroso Can anomie be equated to society disorder

Beccaria Probably, yes.
Durkheim I agree with both of you. Changes in the society are not usually well accommodated by people. People have feelings that cannot be satisfied. Insatiability can be deemed as an abnormality. People have the desires of achieving everything they want. When they are not able to do or get what they want, they are bound to be unhappy as they try to find other alternatives. The society plays the role of regulating an individuals appetite. In cases when there are tough economic times and people are forced to limit their budgets and live within limited means, some individuals are likely to commit suicide. This is probably due to the changes which have taken place and they cannot cope with them. Anomies can also occur when there is a drastic increase in wealth that an individual is not able to cope with the new changes. When an individual becomes very rich within a short duration, he will experience an increase in the desire to even become richer and possibly become exigent (Durkheim, 1897). These teenagers are probably not able to adjust to the modernization in the current world. They are depressed and find vandalism as the most appropriate means of expressing their frustrations.
Beccaria We have to focus on the most appropriate punishment. The law is defended through punishment. Laws in mechanical societies are more or less oppressive. Punishment is mandatory for criminals. Punishment is regarded as a compensation for abandoning consciousness. Laws in organic societies are meant for restitution. They main aim is to ensure that the normal working condition is regained and not necessarily to punish (Beccaria, 1963). The teenagers in this context need to be punished, though justice should prevail. Legislature is supposed to define the different possible crimes and the punishments they are likely to attract. Judges are only required to ascertain whether a suspect is guilty or not. The intention should not be taken into consideration instead, the seriousness of an offence should be decided by the extent of harm. The teenagers should not be imprisoned for life or executed. Offenders should be punished quickly to make it more vivid. We need to focus on crime prevention than punishment (Vold G.B. et al, 2002).

Lombroso Punishment should lead to a decrease in ferocity and an increase in social safety. They should be quarantined in some intermediate institutions where they can access treatment. The source of criminal behaviour also needs to be taken into consideration. This can prevent the financial cost associated with detention (Lombroso, 2006).

Durkheim Morality remains a very important aspect in maintaining societal integration. Only a moderate level of punishment is required to change an individual to social ways (Vold G. B. et al., 2002). Crime can be equated to a disease whose treatment is punishment.

Beccaria I agree with you. Our discussion may not have been necessarily conclusive but I think it has moved us one step towards dealing with crime within the society.

Lombroso I feel that I have greatly benefited from this discussion. You can also go and reflect on this matter again and probably there may be some changes in view when we next meet. Thank you once again.

(They all stand up and walk towards the exit).


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