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Where next for criminal justice?

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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

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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.

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Mr Briggs' Hat

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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

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“Clockwork Orange” almost 50

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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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New Directions in Criminological Theory

This edited collection by Steve Hall [Teesside U.] and Simon Winlow [York U., England] brings together established global scholars and new thinkers to outline fresh concepts and theoretical perspectives for criminological research and analysis in the 21stcentury. Criminologists from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia evaluate the current condition of criminological theory and present students and researchers with new and revised ideas from the realms of politics, culture and subjectivity to unpack crime and violence in the precarious age of global neoliberalism.

These ideas range from the micro-realm of the ‘personality disorder’ to the macro-realm of global ‘power-crime’. Rejecting or modifying the orthodox notion that crime and harm are largely the products of criminalisation and control systems, these scholars bring causes and conditions back into play in an eclectic yet thematic way that should inspire students and researchers to once again investigate the reasons why some individuals and groups elect to harm others rather than seek sociability. This collection will inspire new criminologists to both look outside their discipline for new ideas to import, and to create new ideas within their discipline to reinvigorate it and further strengthen its ability to explain the crimes and harms that we see around us today.

This book will be of particular interest to academics and both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the field of criminology, especially to those looking for theoretical concepts and frameworks for dissertations, theses and research reports. For full details, go to:

Introduction: The Need for ‘New Directions’ in Criminological Theory, Steve Hall and Simon Winlow Part 1: Epistemological and Political Reflections 1. Criminological Knowledge: Doing Critique; Doing Politics, Pat Carlen 2. Political Economy and Criminology: The Return of the Repressed, Robert Reiner 3. Critical Criminology, Critical Theory and Social Harm, Majid Yar 4. The Current Condition of Criminological Theory in North America, Walter DeKeseredy Part 2: Criminological Theory, Culture and the Subject 5. The Biological and the Social in Criminological Theory, Tim Owen 6.From Social Order to the Personal Subject: A Major Reversal, Michel Wieviorka 7. The Discourse on ‘Race’ in Criminological Theory, Colin Webster 8. Using Cultural Geography to Think Differently about Space and Crime, Keith Hayward 9.Consumer Culture and the Meaning of the Urban Riots in England, Steve Hall 10. Censure, culture and political economy: beyond the death of deviance debate, Colin Sumner Part 3: Criminological Theory and Violence 11. Psychosocial Perspectives: Men, Madness and Violence, D.W. Jones 12. All that is Sacred is Profaned: Towards a Theory of Subjective Violence, Simon Winlow 13. Late Capitalism, Vulnerable Populations and Violent Predatory Crime, David Wilson Part 4: Crime and Criminological Theory in the Global Age 14. Outline of a Criminology of Drift, Jeff Ferrell Ch. 15. It Was Never About the Money: Market Society, Organized Crime and UK Criminology,Dick Hobbs 16. After the Crisis: New Directions in Theorising Corporate and White-Collar Crime, Kate Burdis and Steve Tombs 17. Crimes against Reality: Parapolitics, Simulation, Power Crime, Eric Wilson Ch. 18. Global Terrorism, Risk and the State, Sandra Walklate and Gabe Mythen