In dramatization of evil, Frank Tannenbaum, among distinguished sociologists, explains how a criminal is made and what causes criminal behavior. His conception led to the development of the symbolic interactionism and labeling theory used in social psychology.
Frank Tannenbaum: The Making of a Convict Criminologist -
Matthew G. Yeager
In 1914, he served a year on Blackwells Island (New York City) for labor disturbances involving a group of 200 unemployed and hungry men on the lower west side of Manhattan. At that time, Tannenbaum, who was only 21, was a fledgling member of the International Workers of the World (IWW).
In 1922, Tannenbaum published Wall Shadows (Tannenbaum, 1922b) on his experiences with the American penal system. He served as the official reporter to the Wickersham Commissions study on Penal Institutions, Probation and Parole (Volume 9) in 1931. Two years later, he published a biography on prison reformer Thomas Mott Osborne, a former warden of Sing Sing prison. This article discusses the career of Frank Tannenbaum as an early American convict criminologist, focusing on his personal papers in the custody of the Butler Library at Columbia University.