History of Criminology Careers

The study of the history of criminology careers is truly fascinating. In fact, thousands and thousands of books have been written on this engaging topic, and undoubtedly, more will be written in the decades to come. There is no way to cover all of this material in a brief article, but we want to present a few of the more notable highlights in the history of criminology careers, and we're pretty sure everyone who reads this article will learn something new and interesting.

Let's start with local law enforcement officers, as these are the criminology professionals most people encounter on a daily basis. In modern times, we're used to the idea of a professional, well-trained, fair, and independent police force that serves and protects its community. That was not always the case, however. Hundreds of years ago in England, the local law enforcement officers were usually thugs hired by the local baron or lord to serve his interests.

They often abused people brutally, even killing them, on nothing more than accusations. Eventually, people revolted at this barbaric treatment and demanded fairness and justice. This led to the creation of an officer called the reeve. Each shire, or county, had its own reeve, who tried to enforce laws fairly. He was known as the reeve of the shire, or shire reeve. The shire reeve lives on today; this is where we get the word sheriff.

The crime investigation and forensics fields were also nothing to be proud of during the Middle Ages. Many times, suspects were simply tortured until they confessed to whatever they were accused of. Eventually, though, logic and science began to be applied to the investigation of crimes. Much of the impetus for this revolution came from increased medical knowledge during the Renaissance. In the 1500s, a surgeon in the French army, Ambroise Pare, showed how murder could be distinguished from death by natural causes by changes in the internal organs. Two surgeons in Italy, Fortunato Fidelis and Paolo Zacchia, built upon his work.

By the late eighteenth century, medical experts, such as Carl Wilhelm Scheele, began to devise ways of detecting poison in corpses. This is the era that truly serves as the dividing line between primitive crime investigation and the modern concept of forensics. The modern crime investigator uses science and logic to convict criminals instead of relying on confessions coerced by torture or rumors of spells, hexes, and witchcraft.

The roles of wardens and prison guards have changed dramatically over the centuries as well. Prison conditions up until quite recently were nothing less than appalling. Prisons were little more than places where people went to die.

There was little supervision, little protection from other inmates, no medical care, and in many cases, no food was provided. If a prisoner didn't have someone to bring them food from the outside, they would simply starve to death.

Conditions were worse than brutal. Prisons were unspeakable hellholes, and even children were sentenced to them right along with adults. In the 1800s, this began to change. The reason was that more and more decent people were simply outraged, disgusted, and ashamed at how prisoners were being treated.

Much of the drive for prison reform came from Christian groups in America and Europe. They believed that a prison sentence should not be used as punishment but as rehabilitation, and it should be as humane as possible. This led to a huge number of important reforms in our prison system, including the creation of an entirely separate justice system for juveniles. From these reforms came the modern occupations of prison guard and prison warden.

These have been just a few highlights of the history of criminology careers. As we said, it is a truly fascinating topic and much too big to be covered in depth here. We encourage everyone to look into these matters further, as what you learn will often amaze and shock you.

Last Updated: 06/03/2014


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