Enrico Ferri. Criminal Sociology (1899)
THE following pages are a translation of that portion of Professor Ferri’s volume on Criminal Sociology which is immediately concerned with the practical problems of criminality. The Report of the Government committee appointed to inquire into the treatment of habitual drunkards, the Report of the committee of inquiry into the best means of identifying habitual criminals, the revision of the English criminal returns, the Reports of committees appointed to inquire into the administration of prisons and the best methods of dealing with habitual offenders, vagrants, beggars, inebriate and juvenile delinquents, are all evidence of the fact that the formidable problem of crime is again pressing its way to the front and demanding re-examination at the hands of the present generation.
The real dimensions of the question, as Professor Ferri points out, are partially hidden by the superficial interpretations which are so often placed upon the returns relating to crime. If the population of prisons or penitentiaries should happen to be declining, this is immediately interpreted to mean that crime is on the decrease. And yet a cursory examination of the facts is sufficient to show that a decrease in the prison population is merely the result of shorter sentences and the substitution of fines or other similar penalties for imprisonment.