The advancements made in DNA gave law enforcement almost mystical powers to solve cold cases. Parabon is a fascinating modern that can take a DNA sample and generate an image of that person.
While Victorian era law enforcement would be bewildered by our current capabilities, they were making huge advances in criminology and forensics even then. But you will see at the end of this post, the most interesting technique was also the oldest!
Let’s take a look at the influential theories, training, and the reality of Victorian criminology.
LOC – 1910 Class is studying the Alphonse Bertillon method of criminal identification
One of the most influential thinkers in the field was an Italian doctor named Cesare Lombroso. He believed physical characteristics determined criminality to a large degree, creating what he called “born criminals.” It was a forgone conclusion that a man with a large jaw and abnormal teeth would tend toward thieving and other lawbreaking activities.
A rare picture of on-the-job training!
New York City led the way in implementing innovations like mugshots and fingerprinting.
Do you think punishment deters criminality? What about really creative punishments? Shaming was effective at the turn of the century.
And the pièce de résistance of this post. This photograph captures the ancient punishment of crushing a criminal beneath an elephant’s foot. Both creative and effective.