pioneer in criminology
first female Doctor of Laws
Professor of Law
Minister of Justice

First female Doctor of Laws, Professor of Law and Minister of Justice in Finland

The rational and humane direction that Finnish criminal policy has taken during the last decades is largely the result of the life's work of Inkeri Anttila and her colleague Patrik Törnudd. Inkeri Anttila has been a key figure in the reform of the Finnish criminal code and especially its system of follow-up.

Anttila s research on criminology and criminal policy have had a definite impact on the international legal forum, and her research in the field of victimology has especially been of a pioneering nature. In the field of criminal policy, Anttila is known for her criticism of unfounded optimism about correctional therapy.

Inkeri Anttila entered on an academic career during the Second World War. While caring for her three little children and serving at a district court, she was preparing her doctoral dissertation, which she defended in 1946. Anttila's views on criminal law began to take shape in the 1950s when she worked at the Ministry of Justice Department of Prison Administration. The atmosphere of prison administration was more liberal than at the University of Helsinki, where Anttila taught criminology, a discipline shunned by the other professors. She also studied sociology, which broadened her perspective on criminal law. Still another factor which affected Anttila's later views on criminal policy was her membership in a radically inclined committee on juvenile crime. Anttila was actively involved in cooperation with the other Nordic countries.

In 1961 Inkeri Anttila became the first woman in Finland to hold a chair in law when she was appointed to a professorship in criminal law. In the 1960's liberalism became an integral part of her views on criminal law. In her mind, crime could not be eliminated, but a rational criminal policy could have an effect on the quantity and quality of crime.

Throughout her career Anttila combined research with social interests. In the 1960's and 1970's she headed the National Research Institute of Legal Policy and chaired committees on abortion legislation and probation and after-care of released offenders. When serving as Minister of Justice in 1975, she made legislative initiatives which resulted in Government bills on the reform of conditional sentences, parole and sentences on drunken drivers. Since 1980 Inkeri Anttila has been vice chair of a committee preparing an overall reform of the Finnish criminal code.


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1, 2 Bust of Inkeri Anttila was unveiled at the University of Helsinki November 18, 1996. The artist was Edgar Viies from Estonia. Photo: Eero Roine, University AV-centre.

3 Inkeri Anttila with her assistant Raimo Lahti and his wife Varpu travelling to a conference on crimilal law held in Rome in 1969. Photo: Raimo Lahti.

4 Professors and teachers of the faculty of law in the 1950s. Photo: Raimo Lahti.