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Where next for criminal justice?

Where next for criminal justice?Criminal justice reform in recent years has been intense but disappointing. The proposals for a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ in England and Wales that were made by the coalition government when it came into power in 2010, momentarily, gave a glimmer of hope for cross-party agreement, but the deep divisions about appropriate responses to crime have continued in politics and in public opinion.

People feel passionately about criminal justice, draw on a particular logic of morality, and can become over-righteous, turning their backs on others. Conflicting views on appropriate responses to offending are often linked to different perspectives on what ‘justice’ is, and on human nature and individual capacity for change.

‘Where Next for Criminal Justice? by David Faulkner and Ros Burnett (The Policy Press, November 2011) reflects on these different perspectives, reviews the policies and the governance of criminal justice over the last thirty years as well as the latest developments and research evidence, and argues for a fundamental reassessment of what criminal justice is for and what it is realistically able to achieve.

The authors propose that opposing views might be bridged by focusing on things we can generally agree on: procedural justice and institutional legitimacy; human decency and civility; and the desirability of crime reduction. Towards this, they argue for presumption in favour of prevention, restoration and desistance from crime rather than punishment as revenge. 

David Faulkner is a Senior Research Associate and Ros Burnett a Research Associate at the University of Oxford's Centre for Criminology. 

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Communities and Identities

Basia Spalek: Communities, Identities and Crime. The Policy PressBristol2008. 241 pp.

Identity politics has had a huge impact on the social sciences, particularly in the debate surrounding the fractious and individualist nature of late modernity and the subsequent fate of social identity. This is the theme that runs throughout this new book, and it is highlighted in the first chapter, a clearly written overview of the work of Bauman, Giddens, Beck and Lasch, who are major theorists of social identity. Spalek discusses the relationship between collectivisation - commonly associated with modernity up until the ‘golden age’ of the post-war social democratic settlement - and individualisation, the fragmentation of social units that occurred during the neoliberal turn after the 1980s.

Read more: Communities and Identities

Mr Briggs' Hat

The new book discussed in today’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ (‘Mr Briggs’ Hat’ by Kate Colquhoun) is about the first railway murder in England and is well written and  based on wide research, says Leslie Blake, University of Surrey.

Mr Briggs’ Hat is shortlisted for the 2011 Crime Writers' Association Golden Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.

Here's the review and a comment by Kate Colquhoun on how she collected the evidence and on the social importance of the case in Victorian England:

Mr Briggs' Hat by Kate Colquhoun: review

When taking the train really was murder

Now available through the CrimeTalk bookshop:

“Clockwork Orange” almost 50

The late Anthony Burgess never anticipated being remembered more for A Clockwork Orange than for anything else, but such has been his fate. He never thought it the best of his many novels, and perhaps it isn’t. But it is a philosophically complex, narratively compelling and stylistically distinctive fable, and, while his overall literary reputation continues to waver since his death in 1993, this short book now keeps company with Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty Four in the grand pantheon of dystopian literature. After nearly fifty years, it remains in print as a Penguin Classic.

On first publication, in 1962, A Clockwork Orange neither sold well nor impressed critics, although it quietly garnered countercultural fans, notably Andy Warhol and The Rolling Stones. It may never have become really famous, as even Burgess recognised, had not Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film of it dragged it into the slipstream of controversy about screen violence. Burgess initially defended the film, but came to feel that it distorted his story, regularly engaging in corrective debate about it, and seeking to reclaim its meaning by creating stage and radio versions, including a short-lived musical for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Northern Stage regularly performed the play for a decade but it never became as iconic as the book and film. Versions have been staged several times at the Edinburgh Festival, and Glasgow’s Citizens’ Theatre performed it (for a second time) in October 2010, suggesting that some directors still think the story speaks to us, although whether in quite the way Burgess intended is moot – and perhaps also irrelevant.

Read more: “Clockwork Orange” almost 50

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