The main exponents of this school were three eminent scholars namely called Lombroso, Garofalo and Ferri, all of them were Italian. It is for this reason that this school is also called Italian school of Criminology.
Lombroso took an objective and empirical approach to the study of criminals through his anthropological experiences. He came to a definitive conclusion that the criminals evolved an inclination towards acts that are inferior. He made a general opinion that they are less thoughtful of pain and hence, have very little concern for the suffering of others. He classified them into three categories, namely
- Criminals who are born criminals.
- Insane, who resorted to crime because of some mental disorder.
- The third category of criminals, according to him, were those criminals who were physical criminal type and tended to commit crimes to overcome their inferiority to meet survival needs.
Lombroso emphasized the biological element of human behavior and indirectly focused the attention of criminologists to the impact of the environment on the causation of crime.
Enrico Ferri’s theory
Ferri was another exponent of the positive school of criminology. He challenged Lombrosian view of crime. He challenged Lombrosian view of criminality. According to him physical, anthropological and social factors were three main causes of crime. He developed a five-point classification of criminals, namely:
- Born criminals
- Passionate criminals
- Insane criminals
- Habitual criminals
- Occasional criminals
He suggested an intensive crime prevention program and recommended a series of measures for the treatment of offenders. He claimed that punishment was one of the possible methods of reforming criminals.
Born in Naples in 1852, Garofalo began his career as a magistrate, he was one of the three exponents of the positive school of criminology. According to him, a criminal is a creature of his own environment. Garofalo defined crime as an act which offends the feelings of pity and probity of an average individual and which is harmful to society. He rejected Ferris’ classification and classified them into four main classes, namely: –
- Indigenous criminals
- Violent criminals
- Probity lacking criminals
- Lustful criminals
Characteristics of the positive school of criminology
- It rejected the legal definition of crime and accepted sociological definition.
- It explained crime in terms of biological terms.
- It put forward methods of treatment for criminals instead of the punishment and believed that criminals should be punished not on the basis of the seriousness of the crime, but on the circumstances associated with it.
- It emphasized the character of the offender instead of his/her criminal act.