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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: October 2018

Chapter 11 - General Conclusion


To conclude this introduction to the transatlantic history of criminology and the criminal justice system, it is appropriate to look back at what we have seen during this survey. This will be done in the first section of this chapter. In conjunction with this retrospective, we will then also look to the future on the basis of the current status of criminology.


The foregoing chapters clearly demonstrate that criminology – in the form of a systematic discourse on crime and society's response to it – has a long history. That history reaches back into the Middle Ages but acquired greater shape and form in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, its history as a scientific discipline is considerably shorter. It began at the end of the nineteenth century and gradually took on the usual institutional forms: books and journals, national and international associations, university chairs, and research institutes.

This so-called modern criminology clearly built, on the one hand, on the manifold ideas developed since the eighteenth century about the person of the off ender, the nature, extent and development of crime problems, and preventive or repressive combatting of crime. On the other hand, it was also highly indebted to the institutions that, since the Middle Ages, have increasingly become the backbone of the criminal justice system, namely the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the judiciary, and the prison system. It should also be noted that this criminology not only radically transformed those ideas from a wide range of perspectives – biological, psychological, and sociological – but at the same time also called into question the principles, organisation, and functioning of the existing criminal justice system. The diff erentiation within the prison system, the development of the juvenile protection and probation systems, the psychiatrisation of sentencing, and the scientification of criminal investigation can be ascribed, both directly and indirectly, to the new science of criminology.

But this abstract summary is not sufficient for dealing with the development of modern criminology in relation to the criminal justice system. If we wish to do justice to the transatlantic history of that criminology during this period of more than a century, we need to view it from various diff erent perspectives.

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