Category: cultural criminology

The Racialization of Crime and Punishment

By , March 4, 2010 10:11 am
Image by gnuru via Flickr

The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, has about one-quarter of its prisoners. As you noted, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Over 2.4 million persons are in state or federal prisons and jails – a rate of 751 out of every 100,000. Another 5 million are under some sort of correctional supervision such as probation or parole (PEW 2008). The US remains the last of the post-industrial so-called First World nations that still retains the death penalty, and we use it often. Nearly 3,500 inmates await execution in 35 states and at the federal level. It was not until the early 21st century that the US abolished capital punishment for juveniles and those with IQs below 70.

During the past 40 years there has been a dramatic escalation in the US prison population – a ten-fold increase since 1970. Between 1987 and 2007 alone, the prison population nearly tripled. The rate of incarceration for women escalated at an even more dramatic pace. The increased rate of incarceration can be traced almost exclusively to the War on Drugs and the rise of lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes and other non-violent felonies.

A similarly repressive trend has emerged in the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system has shifted sharply from its original stated goals of rehabilitation and therapy, into a “second-class criminal court that provides youth with neither therapy or justice” (Feld 2007). Throughout the 1990s, the federal government and nearly all states enacted a series of legislation that criminalized a host of “gang-related activities.” This lowered the age at which juveniles could be referred to adult court, widened the net of juvenile justice, and made it easier, and even mandatory in some cases, to try juveniles as adults.

Recently scholars, educators and activists have raised concerns about the growing connection between schools and the prison industrial complex. The growing pattern of tracking students out of educational institutions, primarily via “zero tolerance” policies, and tracking them directly and/or indirectly into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems is variously referred to as the “school to prison pipeline,” the “schoolhouse to jailhouse track,” or as younger and younger students are targeted, the “cradle to prison track” (NAACP 2005; Advancement Project 2006; Children’s Defense Fund 2007). In part, the school to prison pipeline is a consequence of schools which criminalize minor disciplinary infractions via zero tolerance policies, have a police presence at the school, and rely on suspensions and expulsions for minor infractions.

t r u t h o u t | The Racialization of Crime and Punishment.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

From Military Industrial Complex to Prison Industrial Complex

By , December 20, 2009 9:23 am

In the 1950s and through the 1960s and 70s, you had a huge number of revolutions going on. Colonized peoples were kicking the French out of Algeria, the U.S. out of Vietnam, and so forth, all over the world. Here at home, there were also the beginnings of a revolution: everything from the civil rights movement to the anti-war movement to groups like the Black Panthers getting together and saying “we’re not going to take this any more.” People around the world were trying to liberate themselves from the institutions of colonialism, racism, and capitalist oppression. In my view, the origins of the modern PIC emerge out of the contexts of those struggles. More specifically, I think that the origins of the modern PIC are in what we might call the counter-revolution: the reaction to these struggles.

I find it hard to accept arguments that suggest a lot of guys woke up one morning and said “hey, I have an idea, let’s be mean to black people,” and got all their friends on the phone and went into a smoke-filled room and got busy. And that black people were just walking around minding their own business and then all of the sudden they got snapped up in the dragnet. Especially because, the morning before, these guys were already being mean to black people.

I like to think about it this way: in the 1950s and 60s, there really were people struggling on radical and reformist fronts, struggling for example to get rid of American apartheid. People were fighting really, really, hard and dying a lot in this struggle. The problem that the U.S. faced was that even though they could demonize this or that little group, there was enough of a positive response to anti-racist or anti-colonialist struggle that the state couldn’t really contain it. They really didn’t know where it was going to go. There really was disorder in the streets – and not all of it was following a political agenda, not all of it was fleshed-out in many years of study groups. Some of it was spontaneous and erratic and some of it was spontaneous and really great. And so the state’s response was “what do we have? We lost Jim Crow. Culturally, we still have racism, so we don’t have to worry about it too much, but legally Jim Crow is no longer a weapon. What do we have left in the arsenal? Well, we have all the lawmaking that we can do. And we do have the cultural idea that there’s something wrong with ‘those people’: the colonized or the victims of apartheid.” During this time, we saw the conversation around race change from “they’re just not smart enough” to “they’re not honest enough.” “Crime” became the all-purpose explanation for the struggles and disorder that were going on.

via Recording Carceral Landscapes.

Standby for Annihilation – Prison Industrial Complex

By , December 6, 2009 10:03 am

Standby for Annihilation – Prison Industrial Complex Video.

Gang rape raises questions about bystanders’ role –

By , October 31, 2009 9:04 pm

(CNN) — For more than two hours on a dark Saturday night, as many as 20 people watched or took part as a 15-year-old California girl was allegedly gang raped and beaten outside a high school homecoming dance, authorities said.

As hundreds of students gathered in the school gym, outside in a dimly lit alley where the victim was allegedly raped, police say witnesses took photos. Others laughed.

“As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated,” Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department told CNN.

The witnesses failed to report the crime to law enforcement, Gagan said. The victim remained hospitalized in stable condition. Police arrested five suspects and more arrests were expected.

So why didn’t anyone come forward?

Criminology and psychology experts say there could be a variety of reasons why the crime wasn’t reported. Several pointed to a problematic social phenomenon known as the bystander effect. It’s a theory that has played out in lynchings, college riots and white-collar crimes.

Under the bystander effect, experts say that the larger the number of people involved in a situation, the less will get done.

via Gang rape raises questions about bystanders’ role –


By , October 28, 2009 8:20 pm

Check out the following from Jock Young. Good stuff! Link is below:

Critical criminology is the criminology of late modernity. Its inception was in the late sixties and early seventies at the cusp of change, its inspiration a world where oppressive relationships of class, age, gender and ethnicity became highlighted and evident (in that historical order)and where the pluralism, ambiguity and shift of values heralded a society where migration and human creativity created a diversity of cultures in close propinquity and interaction. In Britain the key academic organisation which provided a theatre for such debates was the National Deviancy Conference (NDC). Here, as Stan Cohen astutely noted, “well before Foucault and a long way from the Left Bank – our little corner of the human sciences was seized by a deconstructionist impulse” (1998, p.101). Indeed the NDC was pivoted around deconstruction and anti-essentialism. It dwelt on the social construction of gender, sexual proclivity, crime, suicide, drugs and mental states whilst fiercely criticising the major discourses of modernity, positivism and classicism, and its institutions, whether it was the prison or the clinic. The NDC was anarchistic and antinomian, set deep in the counterculture of the time. My own involvement in it was initially reluctant to say the least. It was a time when we regarded people with 9 to 5 jobs as complete failures, lived in communes and regarded the “straight” world with complete disdain. I was living in Notting Hill where Pink Floyd played weekly at the local parish hall, Jimi Hendrix was at Middle Earth and there was poetry in the streets. Academic conferences were not exactly where it was at. I was persuaded to go to the first NDC in York in 1968. I remember Mike Brake – later to be well known for his books on youth culture (1980, 1985) saying to me the evening we arrived, “What are we doing here, man? Let’s get out quick and get to Leeds where there’s much better clubs.” We stayed all the same and next day I gave my first academic paper, ‘The Role of Police as Amplifiers of Deviancy, Negotiators of Reality and Translators of Fantasy’ (1971a). A pretentious title but it still captures for me a constant theme of the way in which powerful forces in society create demons out of illusions which then, through stigma and oppression, take on a reality of their own.


The Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture

By , October 25, 2009 9:59 pm

The Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture.

Volume 16 Issue 1

Sex and Violence in the Slasher Horror Film: A Content Analysis of Gender Differences in the Depiction of Violence and the Evolution of the Comics Code
Andrew Welsh

The Absence of Gay and Lesbian Police Officer Depictions in the First Three Decades of the Core Cop Film Genre: Moving Towards a Cultivation Theory Perspective
Franklin T. Wilson
Dennis R. Longmire
Warren Swymeler

Theoretical and Cultural Dimensions of the Warehouse Philosophy of Punishment
Barbara A. Rockell

Nihilism and Mistaken Identity: (Self)Hate Crime in The Believer
Paul J. Kaplan

Content Analysis of the 18-Year Evolution of Violence in Video Game Magazines
Monica K. Miller

The Seductions of Arson: Ritualized Political Violence and the Revelry of Arson
Matt Hinds-Aldrich

Truth and Myth in Critical Race Theory and Latcrit: Human Rights and the Ethnocentrism of Anti-Ethnocentrism

By , October 8, 2009 7:31 am

Critical race theorists and LatCrits argue that, throughout US history, norms promising liberty and equality have been myths. They examine the formalisms of US rights discourse through the lens of a realist jurisprudence, arguing that guarantees of ‘equal protection’ or ‘due process’ have failed non-dominant groups throughout long histories of slavery, segregation, subordination, and ongoing exclusion. However, a number of them merely substitute a simplistic myth of US-is-good with an equally simplistic myth of US-is-bad. Scholars such as Mari Matsuda, Richard Delgado, Celina Romany, Berta Esperanza Hernández-Truyol, Elisabeth Iglesias condemn those who praise the black letter of US law while overlooking its brutal realities; yet they then take precisely that approach to non-US legal regimes, such as the standard norms of international human rights law, praising the black-letter norms while ignoring the oppressive politics and histories of many of the powerful countries and institutions behind them. Far from overcoming American ethnocentrism, they thereby recapitulate it. Within an ever more global discourse of human rights, critical theorists can only retain credibility by applying the same realist methods to international and non-US regimes that they demand for US law.

via SSRN-Truth and Myth in Critical Race Theory and Latcrit: Human Rights and the Ethnocentrism of Anti-Ethnocentrism by Eric Heinze.

Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in ‘Acquaintance Rape’ Cases

By , October 4, 2009 4:47 pm

This paper uses the theory of cultural cognition to examine the debate over rape-law reform. Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to conform their perceptions of legally consequential facts to their defining group commitments. Results of an original experimental study (N = 1,500) confirmed the impact of cultural cognition on perceptions of fact in a controversial acquaintance-rape case. The major finding was that a hierarchical worldview, as opposed to an egalitarian one, inclined individuals to perceive that the defendant reasonably understood the complainant as consenting to sex despite her repeated verbal objections. The effect of hierarchy in inclining subjects to favor acquittal was greatest among women; this finding was consistent with the hypothesis that hierarchical women have a distinctive interest in stigmatizing rape complainants whose behavior deviates from hierarchical gender norms. The study also found that cultural predispositions have a much larger impact on outcome judgments than do legal definitions, variations in which had either no or a small impact on the likelihood subjects would support or oppose conviction. The paper links date-rape reform to a class of controversies in law that reflect symbolic status competition between opposing cultural groups, and addresses the normative implications of this conclusion.

via SSRN-Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in ‘Acquaintance Rape’ Cases by Dan Kahan.

Law, Legal Institutions, and the Criminalization of the Underclass

By , October 4, 2009 10:31 am

The contemporary underclass is defined not by race but rather by its weak or nonexistent ties to the labor market. Members of the underclass are more likely to be labeled as criminals than are any other members of society. The process is not a tightly coordinated conspiracy, but in various ways police, prosecutors, and jailers routinely deem members of the underclass to be nefarious lawbreakers. While in many cases underclass men and women have committed acts that justify this perception, the criminal justice system as a whole is too eager and too hasty to attach the criminal label to members of the underclass. What’s more, law and legal institutions contribute to an even broader process of criminalization, one which assumes the entire underclass is criminal. This criminalization of the underclass dooms members of the underclass to be outsiders in American life and becomes a central and powerful premise in the general framework of sociopolitical thought.

via SSRN-Law, Legal Institutions, and the Criminalization of the Underclass by David Papke.

Cultural Criminology and the Engagement with Race, Gender and Post-Colonial Identities

By , September 12, 2009 10:21 pm

This chapter explores the potential of cultural criminology as a theoretical and methodological paradigm with reference to some earlier research in which we examined the high victimisation rates of Filipino women in cases of spousal homicides compared to other Australian women. Our research considers the interplay of gender, ethnicity and first world/third world relations, both materially and symbolically, in seeking to understand the women’s experiences as immigrants, their postcolonial identities and their victimisation. The gendered and racialised nature of the movement of women across national boundaries, and their subsequent exposure to more extreme levels of violence, gives the research a broader focus than simply the experiences of Filipino women in Australia. While cultural criminology provides useful insights into the construction of this symbolic world surrounding violence against women, we argue that it cannot ignore the broader global political economies of labour, capital and communications which are closely connected to the construction of apparently `localised’ cultural expressions. We also demonstrate the importance of specificity in explaining how post-colonial identities and representations are constructed, and in understanding practices such as violence against immigrant women.

via SSRN-Cultural Criminology and the Engagement with Race, Gender and Post-Colonial Identities by Chris Cunneen, Julie Stubbs.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy