Who Is the Father of Modern Criminology?

The father of modern criminology was the Italian Cesare Lombroso (1835 to 1909). He altered the classic focus of crime from legalities and punishment to the individual criminal. Lombroso proposed that criminals are biologically different from other human beings.

He believed that criminals are throwbacks to a more primitive stage of human evolution and that the criminal tendency is inherited. In Lombroso’s view, criminals exhibit more physical and mental abnormalities than noncriminals, such as unusual skull sizes and asymmetrical facial structure. Many of his theories were developed while he was in charge of the insane at hospitals in Italy. He encouraged more humane treatment of convicts and work programs to help them become productive members of society. Once widely embraced, his ideas about criminology have largely been discredited.