Olindo De Napoli

Criminal law and prison in Italy between «modernization» and criminology

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Criminal Law; Positive School; Prisons.

The essay analyzes some recent books published on prison and criminal law in Italy, in the light of the now remarkable existing historiography. In particular, the books Criminal Law in Liberal and Fascist Italy by Paul Garfinkel and Italian Prisons in the Age of Positivism, 1861-1914 by Mary Gibson have very different approaches. Between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Italy experienced a push towards modernization, which only partially coincided with the theses promoted by the so-called Positive School of criminal law, whose impact on legislation and relevance within the science of criminal law are put into question by Garfinkel. The article discusses the links and influences and the circulation of themes that united positivists to non-positivists, especially those who advocated a «moderate social defense». The prison system also experienced a certain «modernization» thanks to a period of reforms starting from the end of the nineteenth century, regarding, in particular, women and young people. Enlightenment and positivism inspired these reforms, but they were also the result of other «indigenous sources», as the prison-monastery, a penal institution born in the medieval age. In this perspective, recent accounts have questioned Foucault’s interpretation of the «birth of the prison».

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