Roger Hood Obituary by Luis Arroyo Zapatero

Roger HoodAt the end of September, Roger Hood sent me a kind letter in response to one that I had sent him to tell him of the impending start of the research project on cruel punishments, the evaluation committee of which he presided over. He shared his sadness with me after the death of his wife, Nancy; now he was alone in life and frightened by COVID-19 in his apartment looking over the Fisherman’s path alongside the Thames at Oxford. With his extraordinary sense of humour, he compared the situation of so many during the first wave of the pandemic uttering “solitary confinement”, which is the cruellest form of serving a prison sentence and has received pointed criticism in so many of our academic works. He expressed his willingness to contribute to the book “Images of cruelty” with a suitable commentary from the gallows. He enclosed his last publication on the difficulties with the abolition of the death penalty in the English-speaking Caribbean and told me that we would both be participating in the book in homage to Hans Jörg Albrecht. But suddenly he fell ill a few weeks ago and yesterday, on November 17, he passed away.

However, I do not want the world fame that Roger Hood held as an abolitionist to obscure his great criminological work, so it will be convenient to situate the person in his time. The fact is that Criminology had little or no tradition in Great Britain, unlike in Continental Europe and Latin America. Up until sometime before the Second World War, only a few groups had concerned themselves with a discipline that since Lombroso and Criminal Anthropology had been converted into a trendy science in the last quarter of the 19th c. Great Britain did have in contrast a long tradition of practical, but also theoretical, concern for questions concerning the prison system. It is expressed very well with a sole reference to Jeremy Bentham, well known in Spain and in America for the translation by the professor of the University of Salamanca, Don Ramón de Salas, incidentally, a Deputy of the Courts of Cadiz. The dedication of Great Britain is also significant in the organization of Congresses and prison organizations.

In the United States, beginning with an initiative of John Henry Wigmore, a professor of Law from Northwestern University, in Chicago, the first scientific association was launched for studying the problems of criminal law. Wigmore with a group of colleagues sought to build a bridge with the European thought of his day and they had a selection of works translated that appeared fundamental to them, agreed in a committee that none other than Wigmore attended as well as teachers of wide-ranging impact: Ernst Freund, of the Chicago Law School; Roscoe Pound, at the time from law school in Nebraska; Robert B. Scott, political science, at that time in Wisconsin; and William W. Smithers, secretary of the section of comparative Law of the American Bar Association. It all took place at the School of Law and, in the meanwhile, the Department of Sociology from the same University was setting up the criminological school that we will call “of Chicago”. The only Spanish author in translation was Constancio Bernaldo de Quirós, his New theories of criminality, which had been published in 1989 and then in 1911 appeared in English as Modern Theories of Criminality. The bridges between the two cultural and continental worlds were the likes of Don Constancio, the Chicago school, Sir Leon Radzinowicz and Manuel López-Rey, with the translations and meetings at the United Nations and among the exiled.

In reality, Criminology in Great Britain started with three prestigious exiles, Sir Leon Radzinowicz, Herman Mannheim and Max Grünhut. The first was the most eminent penalist of the second half of the 20th c., a young and elegant Polish Jew sent at the time by his family to continue his legal studies at the Sorbonne. When called upon to decide on a doctorate director, he chose the most important penalist of all time, “Il Maestro” Enrico Ferri. On to Rome and on his way to Poland he stayed in Belgium, where he performed teaching tasks and studies on the first prison system reforms inspired by Adolf Prins and his social defence, composed at the beginning of the 20th c. In 1938, the Polish government sent him on a study tour to Great Britain and perceiving the immediate surroundings he decided to stay there together with other noble refugees of Jewish origin, such as the Germans Hermann Mannheim and Max Grünhut, the two professors and the two disciples of Franz von Liszt.  The first-mentioned person would compose a great opus and would achieve great transatlantic success with his Pioneers in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Reconstruction and their Comparative Criminology written while working at the London School of Economics.

Leon Radzinovicz was a man of great enchantment, very seductive, who had started with the study of the history of the British criminal system that was later turned into a monumental five volumes, A History of the English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750, the last one The Emergence of Penal Policy, with the titanic assistance of Roger Hood. With his charming manners, Leon Radzinovicz won recognition for criminology in Great Britain that set up the first chair in that speciality, which would then turn into the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. From his memoirs, it is evident that he was the best informed and the best trained penalist of his times. And here his enthralling book must be recommended, Adventures in Criminology, the memories of our British Pole in which as well as an extraordinary history almost read like a novel of our scientific subject, the personality of the “old fox” of criminology, as his colleagues called him, shone out in a magistral way.

From the criminological and political point of view, those first twenty years after the catastrophe were also years of optimism. The War and its aftermath had produced a new and more intense criminality to the point where the section of social matters was one of the first commissions that the United Nations set up, with none other than Radzinowicz at its head. After him came an exiled Spaniard, Manuel López Rey, a chair of criminal law, a follower of Luis Jiménez de Asúa, the best Spanish disciple of Von Liszt and his collaborator with diplomatic and intelligence community tasks in Central Europe during the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, together with Francisco Ayala, novelist and chair of constitutional law and a sociologist, the founder of sociology in Latin America, together with José Medina Echavarría. The last two authors had translated works of Carl Schmitt and were students of Herman Heller, the first the foremost Nazi jurist and the latter persecuted by the same jurists for being a social-democrat and a Jew who finally fell victim to a stroke while giving a doctoral class in Madrid where the Minister of Education, Don Fernando de los Ríos, had appointed him to an extraordinary chair.

Manuel López Rey, went into exile, working as a gardener in Chile, until he came to Bolivia where he was commissioned with the drafting of a Penal Code. From there he was called on to set up the Social Defence branch of the United Nations, perhaps with the intervention of Salvador de Madariaga and Fernando de los Ríos. He especially organized the first Crime Congress in Geneva, in 1955, which Alfonso Quirós Cuarón attended, accompanied by a promising young man, who today at 92 years old is still writing and litigating: Ricardo Franco Guzmán. Within no time an extraordinary woman was calling alongside him to address the problem of women and the prison systems: Victoria Kent, the first woman director general of a whole national criminal system, a great reformer in the early years of the Spanish Republic, who lived through the occupation of Paris in a clandestine manner, and moreover appeared on the list of Spanish Republicans wanted by the Gestapo for delivery to Franco. In 1950, in Mexico, she was requested by the Government of that great Republic to direct the first school prison system training in the UNAM. These were the incipient years of the beginnings of Criminology in Mexico with the arrival from his exile in the Dominican Republic and Cuba of don Constancio Bernaldo de Quirós, who published a Criminology in Puebla that he practically composed from memory, as papers and books had been filed away in Madrid. The UNAM created the first Chair of Criminology for him, a post that would later be entrusted to Alfonso Quirós Cuarón.

Hood was born in 1936, so he had already reached his early maturity towards the end of the 1950s. His first teaching posts were in Durham in 1963 and at the Institute of Criminology of Cambridge, in 1967, where he soon joined the labours of Sir Leon Radzinowicz and took charge of the investigation into a matter that received plenty of attention in the 1950s within Europe: the juvenile delinquent and the work of what was then called reform school or Borstal. He also worked on the history and the sociology of British criminal institutions, which was published as a fifth volume of the previously mentioned opus maius of his master, to move on in January 1973 to Oxford as a Fellow of All Souls College, to direct the recently launched Centre of Criminology up until his retirement and was appointed professor emeritus in 2003. Oxford and its cloisters were turned into an extraordinary laboratory where he found the resources and the pathways to address fundamental questions on Criminology (Key Issues in Criminology 1970), published in Spanish by edit. Guadarrama that same year; Ethnic Minorities in the Criminal Courts, 2005, an anti-racist avant la lettre and, above all, his work on the quinquennial reports from the General Secretary of the United Nations with which it reached an extraordinary knowledge compared with the death penalty in the world today and social and legal mechanisms that operate in favour of their abolition. The death penalty started to appear on the agenda somewhat over 10 years after the Nuremberg executions. The Secretary General ordered the preparation of a report on the global situation under the direction of Marc Ancel, the second president of the Société Internationale de Défense Sociale, which also received a similar task from the Council of Europe. These reports for the General Secretary were turned into exhaustive dossiers on the data and the circumstances of the death penalty throughout the world. Norval Morris was the first chief rapporteur and then in the second half of the 1990s it was Roger Hood at the helm, for over three quinquennials, work which William Schabas continued over three further periods.  It all gave rise to a book: The Death Penalty: a Worldwide Perspective, in its 5th edition, the first in 1989, the last in collaboration with Carolyn Hoyle, in 2015, which a group of Spanish and Hispano-American penalists and criminologists including myself have translated. Publication by Tirant lo Blanch guarantees its dissemination throughout the continent of America. The works of many, but fundamentally those of Roger Hood, successfully paved the way towards the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations in favour of a universal moratorium in December 2007.

His scientific career also highlights having been a member of the Committee for the conditional freedom of England and Wales, president of the British Society of Criminology, holder of the Sellin-Gluek award of the American Society of Criminology and, finally, the Beccaria medal of the Société Internationale de Défense Sociale, which he received in a solemn act at the University of Salamanca. In addition, he was an active participant in the dialogues between Europe and China and other Asian countries, a member of the British Academy and a Companion of the Order of the British Empire. Over the past few years, he had been cooperating in a systematic way with Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabaar in the legal defence work and studies of the Death Penalty Centre in London.

In 2010, we established an International Academic Network against the death penalty at the behest of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the president of the Government of Spain and at that time also of the President of the European Union, to accompany the International Committee against the death penalty that Federico Mayor Zaragoza chaired, which was also established at that time and within the same initiative by a group of 16 countries that expressed sympathy towards the idea. The Academic Network was launched in La Hague at a meeting with William Schabas, Cherif Bassiouni, José Luis de la Cuesta, president of the AIDP and myself as president of the SIDS. Hood was away in Malaysia and not there, but Bill Schabas took up the reins, came to us later and immediately incorporated himself in our work. With the support of both we have since then produced twelve books, three of them in English, another in Turkish and another in Arabic. The inaugural Congress took place in Madrid and in addition to the previously mentioned scientific organizations, the participants included the International Society of Criminology, 25 scientific institutes of criminal Law, criminology and Human Rights from the five continents and over one 100 teachers from numerous universities worldwide. Roger Hood, who was advising Singaporean institutions joined a little time later on the occasion of the Congress organized under the auspices of the University of Salamanca and Ignacio Berdugo, a good opportunity for us to present him with the Beccaria Medal of the SIDS. William Schabas, who replaced him in UN, taking over responsibility for drafting the quinquennial reports for the General Secretary, expressed very well what the United Nations owed to Roger Hood after having taken the great step in favour of a moratorium through its resolution of 2007.

It is not easy in the lives of academics to fill up with personal work a scientific and practical working life in an academic field such as the life of Roger Hood with his work against the death penalty that he continued up until the last few weeks of his life, with the tranquillity of knowing that two extraordinary young colleagues, Caroline Hoyle, Lucia Zedner, and Mary Bosworth were in charge of the Centre. I am sure that he will await us all in the heaven of the abolitionists, with a well-prepared dry martini, as he learnt from his master and as we have learnt from him.

by Luis Arroyo Zapatero, University of Castilla-La Mancha​

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