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Jaar 2010 x

    The prehistory of criminology doesn't get all that much attention in the Low Countries. In the Dutch case many criminologists e.g. see the publication of Bonger's work in 1905 on crime and economic conditions as the real starting point of criminology. This narrow historical view overlooks the fact that, before the French Revolution, notably the ideas of Beccaria on crime and punishment sparked a rather fierce discussion in the Netherlands - this in contrast to the Austrian/Belgian provinces. Beccaria's views also inspired Calkoen to write the first comprehensive treatise on the prevention and repression of crime in 1778. Later, after 1830, two major figures in the prehistory of modern criminology stepped forward in the new independent state of Belgium. Quetelet was the first one in history to apply modern statistics in order to assess the nature, extent and development of crime problems. He became one of the founding fathers of criminal statistics. Ducpétiaux developed into an enlightened and brilliant defender of the Pennsylvania penitentiary system and completely rebuilt the Belgian system according to this model. Both men also had a notable impact on the discussion how to deal with crime and in particular on the construction of new prisons in the Netherlands. After the birth of modern criminology in 1876 - thanks to Lombroso - the writings of Quetelet were an important source of knowledge for Bonger and the Belgian criminologist Denis. Lombroso, however, equally had important followers in both countries: Aletrino in the Netherlands and Héger in Belgium. It is a pity that the (pre-)history of criminology in the Low Countries is not part of the contemporary international image of the history of criminology. Time has come to fill up this important gap in the historical analysis of criminology.


C. Fijnaut
Prof. dr. Cyrille Fijnaut is gewoon hoogleraar aan de Faculteit Rechtswetenschappen van de Universiteit van Tilburg.
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