By: Jürgen Thorwald
The foundation of modern criminology was introduced in 1879 by twenty-six year old Alphonse Bertillon. Prior to the introduction of his anthropological technique known as anthropometry, law enforcement could only identify criminals by name and photograph. Anthropometry is the method of collecting exact measurements of criminals.
Alphonse Bertillon was born in Paris in 1853 to the famous medical professor Louis Bertillon. He drifted through a variety of jobs in England and France after he was expelled from school. He was involuntary forced into the French army in 1875. After being discharged several years later his father was able to get him a low level clerical job with the Prefecture of Police in Paris on March 15, 1879. Having only been on the job just a matter of days as a copyist, he began thinking of a better way to identify offenders and maintain their arrest and criminal records. Thinking there had to be a better to way to classify and file offender’s data according their body sizes and measurements instead of their names, because they would most likely use an alias every time they were arrested. As a criminologist and anthropologist, he created the first system of recording physical measurements that included the head and body, shape formations of the ears, mouth and eyes in addition to tattoos and scars and then recorded them so that police would be able to easily identify repeat criminals. In 1883, the Parisian police adopted his system and called it bertillonage.
Prior to the introduction of the bertillonage technique, law enforcement could only identify criminals by name and photograph. Photographing criminals began in the mid 1940’s, but it wasn’t until 18...
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...stless and determined to go out into public, he decided to change his appearance just so that he could go to the movies. Afraid of being identified if he ran into police check, he decided to have his fingerprints modified. After pay $5,000 to crooked attorney, Louis Piquett, Dillinger was introduced to Dr. Willhelm Loeser and Dr. Harold Cassedy. The doctors used acid to remove the papillary lines. This method proved to be inept, because his papillary lines had already begun to return upon his capture and death on July 22, 1934 – just two months after trying to remove them.
In closing, the cases brought forth in this book teach us that fingerprints are unique, identifying marks that everyone has. Thanks to the pioneers and advances in criminology, scientific geniuses continually strive to improve the ways that criminals are caught and brought to justice.
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