Dialog between Beccaria, Lombroso, and Durkheim.
Durkheim: - Good Afternoon Lombroso. How are you?
Lombroso: - Fabulous. I’ve just been reading your theories in The Normal and the Pathological (Durkheim, 1895).
Durkheim: - You disagree?
Lombroso: - Maybe on some points.
Durkheim: - Our other guest has arrived. Beccaria, how are you my learned friend?
Beccaria: - Very well, Durkheim.
Durkheim: - You know Lombroso, don’t you?
Beccaria: - I’ve read your work: the Criminal Man (Lombroso, 1911). You have a fascinating view-point on criminality.
Lombroso: - I supposed I should be pleased, this coming from someone so highly respected as you? Are you planning a follow up from On Crimes and Punishments? (Beccaria, 1761)
Beccaria: - All in good time, my friend.
Durkheim: - Ok Gentlemen, lets not get too carried away. The reason that I called you here today is to discuss the latest Salvation Army robbery.
Beccaria: - Heavens knows what those boys were thinking when they chose to break into that store (Beccaria, 1761:277).
Lombroso: - How can an educated man chalk up their actions to free will? There are biological factors that dictate why these boys commit crimes. We can not expect anything more from atavistic re-offenders? (Lombroso, 1911:xxv) There is no hope for these young men now.
Durkheim: - Atavistic re-offenders, how have you arrived at that conclusion? There is nothing to suggest that these young men had anything to do with the other break-ins. Isn’t prejudging them a dangerous thing to do?
Beccaria: - I’ll say. Why don’t we leave it up to the judge to ascertain guilt and they can face the punishments they ought to rightfully receive for what they have done to society (Beccaria, 1761:278).
Lombroso: - Here comes the moral conscience. (Gould, 1981:140) “In order to deal with the evil effects of [their] wrong doing…” (Lombroso, 1911:xxii) it is as necessary with the criminal as it is “the insane, to make the patient the object of attention,” (Lombroso, 1911:xxiii) and not, as I’m sure you will disagree my learned Beccaria, the resulting punishments.
Beccaria: - You are right Dear Lombroso, I do disagree. These boys have already engaged in this criminal behaviour, yes by free will, I do believe (Beccaria, 1761:277). There is nothing that will stop it from happening again unless we concentrate on how to deter this defective behaviour. (Beccaria, 1761:278-284).
Durkheim: - I beg one major point of difference to you, Beccaria. Crime is not defective. It is normal, it appears in every society from mechanical to an organic form (Durkheim, 1895:84). And furthermore, crime implies “… that the way remains open for necessary [social] change” (Durkheim, 1895:87). I deem it necessary to examine the wider context of society, rather than just the punishments, or the individuals themselves.
Beccaria: - I accept your difference of opinion, and in fact welcome it. If we all thought the same thing about these boys alleged crimes, I’m sure we would have nothing to talk about. I would like to ask Lombroso, to explain why he thinks of them as atavists re-offenders?
Lombroso: - In my search for the cause of criminal behaviour, I have found three classes of criminals. 1. Born, 2. Insane, 3. Criminaloids. (Vold et all, 2002:27) It is clear that these boys fall into the first category of criminals.
Durkheim: - But how did you arrive at this conclusion?
Lombroso: - What tells me such– “normal man or man without stigmata perform criminal acts by force of circumstance. Man with stigmata performs them by innate nature”. (Gould, 1981:132)
Beccaria: - Lombroso that still does not tell us how you reached your conclusion.
Lombroso: -. What situation could possibly drive three teenage boys to break in to, rob, and destroy a Salvation Army store? A store that supply’s the needy. I can not think of one legitimate reason. Therefore, it is my assertion that there is no force of...
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