Dr Stephen Skinner is Professor of Comparative Legal History and Legal Theory, University of Exeter.
The Italian Penal Code of 1930 was widely considered at that time to be a major achievement of criminal codification. It was also a product of the Fascist Regime of 1922-43, and the political rhetoric around it at the time of its introduction, as well as its structure and in many ways its substance, reflected core elements of Fascist ideology. Due to its perceived strengths, and the understanding that its Fascist components could be cleanly excised, the Code has remained in force to this day. This paper will outline and discuss three problematic aspects of the 1930 Penal Code's history: (i) the question of interpreting the Code in relation to its ideological heritage and of determining what if anything was specifically Fascist about it; (ii) how the Code has been presented in criminal legal historiography since the fall of the Regime; and (iii) why comparative historical analysis of the Code's provisions is a valuable foundation for a critical legal history of the state's penal powers and their formulation in law.