Penalty and value — Review by Pedro Araújo Sampaio’s (PPGEAFIN/UNEB) review of “Criminologia: Contribuição Para Crítica da Economia da Punição”, by Juarez Cirino dos Santos
Abstract: Criminologia: Contribuição Para Crítica da Economia da Punição, written by Juarez Cirino dos Santos, addresses the field of Criminology from a historical perspective and based on the category of social class.
Keywords: Criminology, Social class, Economics of Punishment.
The book Criminologia: Contribuição Para Crítica da Economia da Punição, written by Juarez Cirino dos Santos, was published in 2021, in the form of an authorial collection, by Editora Tirant Lo Blanch. The work consists of the study of the historical evolution of criminology in the world, providing an overview of the main currents that make up this area of multidisciplinary work. The retrospective made by the author supports the following question: how does punishment perform its own economy? And as a result of the first question: do the forms of repression administered by the State serve the economic interests of a racially determined elite? Cirino dos Santos suggests that for each production model there is a corresponding penal configuration. In this sense, the work increases the concept of class as a structuring element of criminal repression processes against selected populations. This perspective gave rise to “critical” or “radical” criminology which, based on Marxist theories, today highlights race, gender and class as integral parts of the same structure of punishment and suffering.
Juarez Cirino dos Santos was born in Rio Azul, in the interior of the state of Paraná, and is a university professor, researcher, writer, lawyer and current president of the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Policy — ICPC. In Latin America, the author is considered one of the most important exponents of radical criminology, having been a precursor of this thought in Brazil. Among his most relevant works, “The Roots of Crime – A study on the structures and institutions of violence”, in 1983, “The Criminology of Repression”, in 2019 and “The Radical Criminology”, in 2018. The most recent (2021) is an authorial collection, divided into 24 (twenty-four) chapters preceded by a part called “Brief Presentation”, containing particular subjects, such as the reasons for writing during the pandemic and the influences of personalities essential to thinking critical in the West. The contribution made by the author occurs in an academic, legal, political, historical and social context thirsty for studies capable of denouncing renewed forms of punishment, established in peripheral regions of the world with more or less the same purpose. The author divides the history of criminology, implicitly, into two major moments: the first relating to theories of an etiological nature, based primarily on positivist ideals regarding the concepts of “crime” and “criminal” — given at the time as coming from a ontological reality. And the second relates to the theories responsible for transposing the object of study of criminology that stopped being etiological to question repression as a method of social control. The author promotes an epistemic analysis in each chapter, especially those theories whose method gave rise to racist productions, such as Cesare Lombroso and the conception of the “born criminal”, reproduced in Brazil by personalities such as Nina Rodrigues.
In this way, the author’s narrative-argumentative strategy consists of the critical reanalysis of criminology, defining the epistemological characteristics of each period, proving probable deficiencies in all of them, due to the lack of elements currently considered structuring: race, class and gender. With this, the author demonstrates advances and setbacks in social sciences in explaining behaviors that are still called “criminal” today (terminology without valid meaning in the critical or abolitionist dimension of punishment).
In chapter 1, Cirino dos Santos deals with the emergence of criminological thought in the 18th century, a phase that became known as Classical, founded on the uneasiness of the horrors experienced during the Middle Ages. This gave rise to the rationalism of punishment, a setback to the religious dogmatism prevalent in feudal societies, which certainly supported torture. The author explains that this Enlightenment period gave rise to different philosophical and scientific currents, with varied methods to explain deviant behaviors.
Thus, in chapters 2 and 3, Cirino dos Santos clarifies that, replacing the speculative method of Classical Criminology, a new and dangerous scientific enterprise began aimed at the rationalization of “crime” and the “criminal”, through inductive methods of natural sciences, notably medical sciences, resulting in the regrettable conception of criminal anthropology. This model was called Positivist Criminology, based on the assumption of a pathological nature of the deviation. The criminal would be, in this conception, for determinable causes, a person incapable of assimilating the consensual norms, and, therefore, predisposed to infringements.
In these chapters (2 and 3), Cesare Lombroso’s defense of an anthropological criminology is evident, combining physical, mental and social studies of selected people, in order to understand the origin and nature of crime. It was argued that certain individuals were “born criminals” and possessed anomalous physical characteristics, such as jaw size, skull shape, and facial asymmetry, which indicated a predisposition to commit crimes. The hypotheses revolved around the image of the atavistic subject (Darwinian influence): a person regressed to previous states of development of the human species and, for positivists, capable of being categorized and also treated. These studies were criticized for ultimately being deeply racist and xenophobic, because they associated crime with the physical and cultural characteristics of ethnic groups that were marginalized at the time, perpetuating absurd stereotypes and stigmatization. Luckily, the complete lack of controlled studies has debunked the unfounded hypotheses, discrediting these theories that today should reside in ostracism, although they find isolated places of reminiscence.
In chapter 4, the author invests in the study of psychoanalytic theories of aggressiveness, making a summarized analysis of the most important works by Sigmund Freud and other representatives, demonstrating how psychoanalysis relates to criminology. When reading the work, the structure of the psychic apparatus (id, ego and superego) stands out, evidently, launching explanations based on the pleasure principle, the death instinct, the feeling of guilt, etc. In the end, the conclusion is that the explanatory power of psychoanalysis would be limited to isolated houses, not corresponding well to the explanation of crime as a mass phenomenon or criminalization as a political program of class society.
From chapter 5 onwards, the work focuses on the study of sociology as a science interested in the criminological phenomenon, finding in Emile Durkheim the concepts of “social fact” and “anomie” (absence of rules). Chapter 6 of the work deals with Robert Merton’s sociology of deviance, in 1957, with the idea of cultural goals of economic success and institutional means for achieving such goals. In this construction of thought, crime would not be the product of undersocialized subjects as in positivism. Cirino dos Santos says that in the sociology of deviance there would be an assumption of social values of monetary success that would not be accompanied by legitimate means to achieve such goals, which would result in the practice of criminal actions. At the end of the analysis of the sociological theories in chapters 5 and 6, the author points out several criticisms that, in short, show such theories to be of medium range, especially because they ignore the social relations of production.
In chapter 7, the Chicago Ecological School is studied based on a type of social biology. This phase of criminology resulted in theories such as the “bronken-windows-these” (broken windows theory) which gave rise to the criminal policies of “law and order” and “zero tolerance”, today producing state violence, especially in countries peripherals. In the end, the author points to the xenophobic and hygienist nature of these theses, highlighting the lack of results obtained through minimally safe methods.
Until chapter 12, several other sociological theories were addressed, but all still focused on criminal behavior as an object of study. The twelfth chapter introduces a major epistemological change, with the emergence of Social Reaction Criminology, known for its labeling theories. According to Cirino dos Santos, this change in criminological perspective focuses on the consequences of the labeling and stigmatization of individuals by the criminal justice system and society in general. The theory proposes that criminal behavior is not inherent to certain people or groups, but is a social construct that arises as a result of the negative response and labeling imposed on certain groups of individuals. This new approach opened a promising path for criminology, notably with the use of Marxism and its corresponding method. From chapter 16 onwards, the author exposes class conflict as a preponderant element in the understanding of punitive repression, instrumentalized by the need of economic elites to control populations, maintain inequalities and establish class barriers. Thus, from chapter 12 onwards, the work is dedicated to transforming the object of study of criminology, observing contemporary currents.
In chapter 18, the author analyzes radical (Marxist) criminology in Brazil and Latin America, evaluating slavery as a model of production and dictatorship as state terrorism. Between chapters 19 and 22, more sparse theories were treated, including, in the legal scope, the “Criminal Law of the Enemy”, developed by the German jurist Günther Jakobs, in a demonstration of clear fascism.
Chapter 23 of the book addresses feminist criminology, creating a notable outcome in the triangulation of class, race and gender as structuring elements of punitivism. We can consider this moment in the book as the last act of mapping criminology that occurs in chapter 24 with the following title: “The Political Economy of Punishment”.
It is necessary to note that amidst the methodological rigor, the feeling of not detailing concepts inherent to the racial struggle emerges from the reading. In other words, Cirino dos Santos should have applied the same theoretical weight to racial issues that he used in defining class conflict. It is also worth considering the possibility of the text to explore certain aspects of criminology more clearly. It should be noted that the writer remained within the limits of erudite language, requiring the reader to concentrate and review the text. However, in general, teaching is not lost.
The book presented by Cirino dos Santos manages to carry out, in less than five hundred pages, a comprehensive and, at the same time, somewhat superficial analysis of the main criminological theories, considering interdisciplinarity, which means a great feat of synthesis, becoming a book useful and strategic in directing readings in this field of study. It should also be noted that the work shows the importance of analyzing criminological phenomena from a perspective removed from etiology, as a perspective for explaining deviance, which only occurred from the second half of the 20th century onwards. This work instrumentalizes the necessary disillusionment about the punitive system, as it unmasks official discourses that promote punishment as a necessary method to inhibit unwanted behaviors or, even worse, as fundamental to the “resocialization” of people. This conclusion results from materialist observation that indicates that there is, in all production models, a form of punishment appropriate to maintaining the power of the dominant classes.
By confirming the existence of an economy of punishment, Cirino dos Santos achieves his central objective, in that he transcends class conflict as an essential factor in understanding the punitive system of capitalist societies, revealing the role played by punishment in the plundering of the working masses. and in the maintenance of social inequalities structured by our slavery and patriarchal experience. The punishment that the work deals with is that exercised by the State, when, for example, it sentences and executes a sentence, or when it supports, through its criminal drug policy, a genocide against young black people. Cirino dos Santos says that, while in slave societies the processes of domination took place mostly through force, in capitalist societies this same domination operates through the (bourgeois) State, sanctioning the working class and the portion of the population that, because they do not produce, becomes disposable. Reading is important for students of social sciences who wish to understand the history of criminology and criminal repression through a critical framework.
Summary of Criminologia: Contribuição para a crítica da economia da punição
- Breve apresentação
- 1. Criminologia clássica
- 2. Criminologia positiva: método indutivo
- 3. Criminologia positivista: modelos explicativos
- 4. Teorias psicanalistas da agressividade
- 5. Durkheim, fato social e anomia
- 6. Merton, metas culturais e meios institucionais
- 7. Escola Ecológica de chicago
- 8. Teoria da desorganização social
- 9. Teoria da Associação Diferencial: Sutherland
- 10. Teorias subculturais
- 11. Teorias multifatorias
- 12. Criminologia da Reação Social: Labeling Approach
- 13. David Matza e o Naturalismo criminológico
- 14. Fenomenologia e Etnometodologia criminológica
- 15. Teorias do Conflito de autoridade: Dahrendorf e Turk
- 16. Marx e a Criminologia do Conflito de classes
- 17. Alessandro Baratta e a Criminologia crítica
- 18. Criminologia Crítica ou Radical: Brasil e América Latina
- 19. Criminologia atuarial
- 20. Tolerância zero
- 21. Direito penal do inimigo
- 22. Jock Young, o Realismo de Esquerda e a Criminologia cultural
- 23. Criminologia feminista
- 24. Economia política da punição
Pedro Araújo Sampaio is a specialist in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedural Law from the Universidade Cândido Mendes (UCAM-RJ) and has a bachelor’s degree in Law from the Universidade Católica de Salvador (UCSAL). He works as a lawyer and professor of Criminal Sciences and Legal Theory at Faculdade Irecê (FAI) and Faculdade Pitágoras (FP). Among other works, he published Significados da Diamba. Rede social: @pedrosampaio.adv. ID LATTES: http://lattes.cnpq.br/7319048230563456; ID ORCID: https://orcid.org/0009-0004-0474-9323; E-mail: [email protected].
To cite this review
SANTOS, Juarez Cirino dos. Criminologia: Contribuição Para Crítica da Economia da Punição. São Paulo: Tirant lo Blanch, 2021, 436p. Review by: SAMPAIO, Pedro Araújo. Penalty and value. Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n.12, Jul./Aug., 2023. Available at <https://www.criticahistoriografica.com.br/en/penalty-and-value-review-by-pedro-araujo-sampaios-ppgeafin-uneb-review-of-criminologia-contribuicao-para-critica-da-economia-da-punicao-by-juarez-cirino-dos-santos/>
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