In our imagination lulled by television series, mostly American, criminology benefits from an aura of mystery and adventure. We think Experts, high-tech laboratories, investigations, fingerprints, forensic expertise,… And yet, we are mistaken because it is another science that is concerned: forensic science. It is exercised in the laboratory, and studies by scientific means the clues, the traces of offenses and crimes.

Criminology is the global analysis of all the factors that come into play to explain the commission of acts that are outside the law. The criminologist explores the origins and processes of misdemeanors, crimes and delinquency. He wonders about the systems put in place to prevent or stop these offenses or crimes (police, laws, courts, prison). Why does an individual or a group of individuals start to adopt delinquent behavior? Why will he continue down this path? Or, on the contrary, why is he going to free himself from it? What does such behavior mean for the criminal, the victim, the social environment? The criminologist tries to answer these various questions by taking into account the family and professional context, the circle of friends and the activities of the incriminated individual. Its aim is to understand the facts on the basis of a whole series of factors in order to avoid a recurrence.

The criminologist’s attention is focused not only on the perpetrators but also on the various associated phenomena such as security, delinquency and deviance. The political, economic and social context has influences on crime. He is thus interested in the psychological and social backgrounds of a crime or offence, which also leads him to work in the field of prevention, the aim being to avoid or, at least, to reduce criminality.

Depending on the professional framework in which he evolves, the criminologist has varied tasks. In the field of toxicology, he can, for example, carry out consultations with drug users and their families, work in collaboration with justice centres, reception centres, general practitioners, psychiatrists, hospitals, etc He can also request psychological tests or urine samples when he deems it necessary. As a prison director, the criminologist is responsible for the management of detainees. This relates both to the material dimension, to the personal dimension (resolution of crises and conflicts, negotiation with the unions, administrative aspect, etc.), as well as to the management of the prisoner (discipline and possible sanctions, organization of the release, contacts with family, etc). The functions of the criminologist are as diversified as his fields of application.

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