Criminology is the fascinating field of examining the nature, origins, and control of criminal behavior in the individual and society. Before there was CSI, zoom-and-enhance, and vast computerized databases of suspects, understanding what motivated and drove criminal behavior by drawing on sociology, anthropology, and psychology was key to criminal investigators. The field has a long history of contributors who continue to impact our understanding of the criminal mind today:
Master Geniuses Of Criminology: Jeremy Bentham
This early British criminologist and philosopher became popular for his work in the early 1800s and advocated that women deserved full equal rights.. He believed that basic rights afforded to all men and women would achieve the basic principal of true democracy, and that political policy and reform should promote the happiness of the majority of people under its power. Bentham also called for the right for everyone to have full freedom of expression regardless of their opinions or beliefs and abolishing laws related to criminalization of homosexuality.
Continuing with the theme of going against the current, Bentham insisted on having his body being dissected as part of a public lecture on anatomy. As per his wishes, his head and skeleton were then dressed in his clothing, with the resulting clothed cadaver put on display at the University College of London. On anniversaries of the college, the body is brought to the general meeting of the college and officially listed as ‘present but not voting’.
Addams didn’t just defy her critics by attending a school, she also boldly disobeyed the norms of ignoring the poverty stricken by founding the world famous Hull House in Chicago. Over the course of her life, she almost single-handedly led the cause of reform in the industrial areas of the city and encouraged thousands of women to be active in their community. In recognition of her work, she became the first American women to win a Nobel Prize in 1931.
3. Cesare Beccaria
Beccaria’s infamous 1764 book “Of Crimes and Punishments” laid the groundwork for the anti-gun control movement, long before the Second Amendment was even a talking point on the campaign trail. He equated those who proposed weapons bans as people who would also “deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who of no means of preventing evil but by destroying it.” He believed that laws that prohibited weapons possession and its lawful usage not only deprived law-abiding citizens of their civil liberties but also subjected them to restrictions that were better served on those who actually broke the law.
4. Hans Eysenck
Eysenck, a famed criminology expert who the New York Times called “one of the most distinguished, prolific and maddeningly perverse psychologists of his generation” and brought “introvert” and “extrovert” into the mainstream language with his personality studies, grew up in Berlin in the mid-1910’s.
When the Nazi party started gaining power and soon became the ranking political movement throughout the country, Eysenck was about to enter college and enrolled at the University of Berlin. However, one of the college’s actual prerequisites for student membership was to join the Nazi party. He not only refused to identify himself as such but he risked his and his family’s personal safety and freedom to flee Germany and pursue a career in psychology in London.