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CrimeTalk

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The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are all letting it happen , says Australia 21

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The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are all letting it happen

"Every year some 400 Australians die from illicit drug usage. Thousands of others suffer the short and long-term health consequences of drug dependence, unsafe injecting practices and infections. Their families suffer with them from these consequences. Discussion of drug policy in recent years has been largely absent from the Australian political agenda except as an excuse for being tough on law and order......"

"A substantial proportion of Australia’s street and household crime is a direct consequence of the trade in illicit drugs and the need for dependent users to find money to acquire drugs. Large numbers of young people who experiment with these drugs are criminalised by the enforcement of prohibition laws – even though those thus criminalised are only a minority of the huge numbers of experimenters. The current policy of prohibition discredits the law, which cannot possibly stop a growing trade that positively thrives on its illegality and black market status. Our prisons are crowded with people whose lives have been ruined by dependence on these drugs. Like the failure of the prohibition of alcohol in the USA from 1920 to 1933, the current prohibition of illegal drugs is creating more harms than benefits and needs to be reconsidered by the Australian community. Many other countries are starting to review this area. A decade ago, and with excellent results, Portugal decriminalised the possession of small quantities of all illicit drugs consistent with personal consumption. A number of other countries have adopted versions of this approach. In December 2011, the current Presidents of 12 Central and South American countries called for the use of ‘market mechanisms’ in response to illegal drugs. In a 2011 US Gallup poll, 50% supported the legalisation of marijuana with 46% opposed."

Mexican drug trade hits the poor families hardest

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ArtsWIRE caught up with Shaylih Muehlmann, an assistant professor of anthropology, who has recently been named the Canada Research Chair in Language, Culture and Environment, to talk about her research in how drug trafficking affects the rural-underclasses along the US-Mexico border.

Mexican drug trade hits the poor families hardest, says UBC prof

Mining and crimes against native populations in a neo-colonial economy

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When you research the history of crime during colonial periods, one of the very first things you notice is the abuse of workers and neighbouring villagers by mining company staff. See, for example, Charles Van Onselen's Chibaro [1976] and my Crime Justice and Underdevelopment  [1982]. Local populations do not rush to be exploited or to join monetized economies, unless they are given little choice. Brutal force, kidnapping, the poll tax and the whip have all played their part in the coercive formation of working-classes in sub-Saharan Africa. Without it, a labour force tolerating abuse and needing money might never have been created.

It seems from the cuttings below that we are witnessing the same story again, but this time the locations are different and the companies often Canadian, unsurprisingly given Canada's huge mineral resources industry. This time too, the abused natives fight back with law suits and the home country is appalled at the allegations in an alleged age of social responsibility in the mining industry. But, in the end, when are these companies brought to justice and when do their employees pay for their crimes? Why do the stories below sound like the late nineteenth century? Where is the international legal mechanism to make abusers pay the full price?

Read more: Mining and crimes against native populations in a neo-colonial economy

Web of greed: Toxic bank Goldman Sachs' web of global pals

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In the article below, the Daily Mirror reveals the global friends of named and shamed investment banker Goldman Sachs. Some we knew about, for example the new PM of Italy, Mario Monti. The links with David and Samantha Cameron might come as a surprise to all those who thought we were 'all  in this together'. Sociologists will not be surprised to find that the elite all went to school together or are inter-married or worked for each other. If and when they fully privatize the NHS, the police, the prisons, the courts, the Royal Mail, the universities and the roads, it will  be interesting to see who the 'city' advisers for the resulting PFI contracts are and who advises the PM on their selection. For a while, we called it the 'deconstruction of the welfare state' and some thought it was because 'we couldn't afford it'. I rather think the process would better be described as rigged fire sale or as the theft of state assets by the financial and business elite. No wonder Roman Abramovitch parks his yacht here....it's not much different to Russia. 

Toxic bank Goldman Sachs' web of global pals

For many criminologists, I must spell out the implications, since they have for around 150 years refused, in practice, to see that it is not at all scientific to accept state or official definitions of crime, for many reasons but especially, because that rather overlooks the state's protection or non-prosecution of certain, often very wealthy and powerful, criminals and because the law is usually designed to ensure that their anti-social behaviour is not defined as crime. More than ever, it is clear that the official statistics are the officials' statistics and those officials work for a state that is wedded, literally, to the interests of certain wealthy and powerful classes. That is not Marxism; it is a social fact. Therefore, what the state defines as crime is merely the stuff it finds offensive or threatening. Such state-defined crime by no means represents crime as a whole nor does it bear much resemblance to the crimes of of the wealthy and powerful. Consequently, most criminological theory hitherto has a limited applicability to the real world.

Essay Qs for Criminological Theory 201:

1 When is a crime not a crime?

2 What are the implications for criminology of the dependency of the state on the financial elite?

3 Who polices the really big crimes? Anybody?

4 What would the CEO of Goldman Sachs tell his probation officer?  Would she try to get him a proper job? And should he be subject to an ASBO?

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