Times and concerns are moving against us, an up coming general election will have impacts upon, not just university life for students who submit, but also their lecturers and research staff. So its in these times that this journal is more important now than ever, to show off our future thinkers abilities. yes its all well and good having a really good high grade at the end of university, but you want to have your voice projected out there in to the real world. have the ability to be seen, not just marked.
The times ahead for the landscape of the CJS, are under more doubts now than they have been for the past 20 years. who know where we will be in terms of probation and prison, rehabilitation or punishment. society has a lot coming its way, and lets hope these guys will be at the forefront both academically, and in practice, when these changes come about, so they can help shape the world of tomorrow.
Many thanks for your long term support
BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice
Power distorts the criminal justice system. Discussed with reference to race.
By Ryan Warren
The United Kingdom claim to enforce the interests of its population however, in terms of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) power is being distorted resulting in the termination of justice (Green, 1988). Weber defines power as something which allows ability to control others even if they resist, regardless of what purpose power is being used for (Nehring, 2013). Weber’s definition can be applied to contentious issues involving frontline policing practice such as the power to stop and search, power to arrest and detain despite claims of innocence from the suspect. Power resides within high ranking police officers who influence policy, practice and recruitment. However, evidence suggests that power is being used disproportionately within the police thus distorting the CJS.
This essay will argue that the police uphold a racial prejudice resulting in “disproportionate outcomes for black minority ethnic communities and police personnel” (Muir, 2013a). Differential association theory will be applied explaining why racial prejudice is likely to persist within policing. The rationale for focusing on the police is the high profile cases which has haunted policing in the 20th and 21st centuries. The police receive substantial media attention as institutional failure is deemed ‘newsworthy’ (Jewkes, 2011) and are often the first institution to come into contact with the public. They are the most visible, subsequently the most significant advocates of the CJS.
Britain in the 1970’s and 1980’s was a period fruitful of race riots. ‘Sus law’, under section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 permitted an officer to stop, search and arrest a suspect of an offence with suspicion that had to be neither justified or reasonable (Newburn, 2008). In 1975 Birmingham experienced a substantial stop and search operation under ‘sus law’ following the fatal stabbing of PC David Green (Gilroy, 1982). A total of 600 blacks were arrested on suspicion of murder, although only one was charged (Gilroy,1982). A year later, the Notting Hill Carnival riot occurred as a result of the improper use of sus law.
Gilroy’s (1982) work on the Myth of Black Criminality, although concerned with discrediting work from academics on the left, provides a comprehensive understanding of the social context during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Gilroy (1982) argues that the police upheld predisposition’s that Black Minority or Ethnics (BME) such as West-Indian families were more likely to commit crime and produce conflict (Gilroy, 1982). This is supported by Hall (2013) who argued that beliefs of black criminality within the police subjected the black community to increased policing. This belief, along with the media portraying BME communities as problematic not only alienated them, but legitimised the police’s use of power against them as public support for the BME community was non-existent (Beetham, 1991, p56). Reiman and Gilroy (2007;1982) argue that this is the reason why the face of criminality is often perceived as BME.
Overt racism was evident within the police prior to the Scarman report for example at a police disco in Hammersmith ‘no black in the union jack’ was chanted (Gilroy, 1982). The oppression of BME’s became so extreme, evidence exists to suggest that BME communities were uniting against the police. The Southall riots in 1976 and 1979 witnessed the Asian community uniting in self-defence viewing it as the only means of protection against the police (Gilroy, 1982). This replicated events in America where the Black Panther Party used violent self-defence as the only form of protection from police brutality (Harris, 2001; Smith, 1999). However in 1970, 150 supporters, including figureheads of the British Black Panthers (BBP), marched against police malpractice (Farrar, 2004) they were met with 700 provocative officers sparking violence in order to arrest the BBP leaders (Bunce and Field, 2010). Home Office reports reveal this was a deliberate move to end the black power movement in the UK before sufficient support was gained (Bunce and Field, 2010). They became known as the Mangrove 9 and were found innocent by jury, this is strong evidence of how a racially prejudice police force targeted figureheads of the BME community.
In 1981, Brixton witnessed a BME uprising of unprecedented violence resulting in over 300 injuries and £7.5 million in damage (John, 2006). A public inquiry was launched into the disorders conducted by Lord Scarman. Scarman (1981) blamed the police for the disorders stating some white officers possessed a racial prejudice and developed the bad apple thesis; however, rejected institutional racism (Bunce and Field, 2010). Scarman (1981) called for more BME police officers stating this would provide better cultural understanding of BME communities. Prior to the Scarman report the Home Office viewed racist incidents as isolated events, not recognising racial prejudice as manifested within the police institution (Gilroy, 1982).
The post-Scarman landscape witnessed an attempt to diversify the police, exposing internal racial prejudice. A survey conducted by Hope (1995) highlighted issues faced by BME officers. Including the lack of support services, allegations of internal racial discrimination being ignored by white management and that racial abuse or ‘canteen banter’ was common within the police (O’Neil and Holdaway, 2007b). The survey only consisted of 36 BME officers however, provides a fundamental understanding of problems faced within the police. Ignoring allegations of racial discrimination exposes a victim to secondary victimisation. Treadwell (2013, p 149) explains that secondary victimisation is caused through dealings with the CJS after being victimised by a primary offence, which psychologically can be damaging as it holds a positive link to post traumatic stress (Orth, 2002).
As BME officers disproportionately left the police voluntarily, the MPS organised the Bristol Seminars in 1990, the first recognition of problems faced by BME officers which could be discussed in numbers (O’Brien, 2000). The Bristol seminars found that the police were insensitive to towards internal allegations of racism with fear of being labelled a trouble maker and promotional opportunities were limited (Hope, 1995). To tackle this problem the MPS created the Metropolitan Black Police Association (METBPA) in 1994. The METBPA sought to provide a support service to BME officers; this is considered to be revolutionary as it provided a sense of purpose (O’Neil and Holdaway, 2004). Although this is evidence of positive discrimination which Green (2000) argues is not the best way to create a racial balance, it did provide a basis of support for BME officers comparing to the unofficial and often secretive support services prior to the METBPA (O’Neil and Holdaway, 2007a).
The post-1981 landscape witnessed changes in policy, most significantly the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). This piece of legislation provided a number of safeguards put forward by the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure meaning an officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to stop and search an individual and control police power (Zander, 2012). In events leading up to the 1981 Brixton riots BME communities were subjected to disproportionate use of police power, and diversification attempts exposed BME officers to multiple forms of discrimination. This was a result of racial profiling and the targeting of BME communities causing overrepresentation in the CJS. However, it would take a landmark event in the history of police-race relations for racism to be fully exposed.
The Macpherson report (1999) was published following the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent failings of an investigation conducted by the MPS. This caused the murderers of Stephen Lawrence, under double jeopardy law at the time, never being tried in a court of justice again (Cathcart, 1999). The report was described as a “pivotal moment in the history of the police and race relations” (Neil and Holdaway, 2007a, p 1). Macpherson (1999) undermined the findings of the Scarman report (1981), effectively washing its hands with the bad apple thesis, and found the police to be institutionally racist.
Skidelsky (2000) argued that it was police incompetence rather than institutional racism declaring that the poor handling of the Stephen Lawrence case was due to social class. Skidelsky (2000) adds that it is not just blacks who receive bad treatment from the police. This can be supported by a lengthy list including the Guildford four. Here, four white males experienced violent treatment from the police in order to obtain guilty pleas (Day-Lewis et al, 1990); the social context put the police under pressure because of the IRA bombings, however, does not excuse their actions. Nevertheless, Skidelsky (2000) fails to factor into his argument the disproportionate use of stop and search and powers of arrest.
The Macpherson report (1999) labelled the power of stop and search as the most damaging factor to police-community relations. Statistics show black people were around 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police between 1997 and 1999 (Newburn, 2007). Macpherson (1999) placed emphasis on the training of officers currently serving and the recruitment of BME officers into the police. To aid the police, Macpherson (1999) recommended that all constabularies establish a BPA to provide support to BME officers. Macpherson (1999) stated that this will inevitably help the police overcome racial prejudice in terms of arrest and stop and search.
The CJS amended the Race Relations Act, which stated public authorities have responsibility to promote racial equality and to abolish discrimination (Davies et al, 2007). However, In terms of stop and search, BME communities are overrepresented. Post-Macpherson statistics in 2002/2003 showed that blacks were around six times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and Asians around twice as likely (Newburn, 2007). In contrast, the Home Office (Miller, 2000) released research to suggest that the disproportionate use of stop and search was a result of ‘available population’. The Research shows disproportionate statistics are a result of BME’s, being more likely to be on the streets and are therefore more likely to make up the ‘available population’ for stop and search to the police (Miller, 2000).
Miller (2000) fails to recognise the number of stop and searches conducted on the grounds of section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and section 33 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This permits an officer to stop someone without reasonable suspicion under authorisation of senior officers (Sanders et al, 2007). Between the years 2006-09 BME’s stop and search under section 60 increased by 164% (Ministry of Justice, 2011), under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, stop and search increased between the years 2006-09 by 125% (Ministry of Justice, 2011). As BME police officers only represented 4.4% of the total number of police officers in England and Wales in 2009 (Berman and Dar, 2012), it shows that racial profiling from a predominantly white police resulting in BME overrepresentation in the CJS. It is possible to argue ‘reasonable suspicion’ under PACE 1984 as a due process safeguard is not being obtained. The case of Howarth (Howarth v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 2818) shows that the threshold for ‘reasonable suspicion’ is relatively low, combined with racial prejudice, is resulting in BME communities being targeted.
The evidence suggests that senior officers authorise targeting of BME communities. This is supported by Cashmore (2001) who found whilst interviewing BME officers, that they were instructed to target black individuals as senior officers upheld the viewpoint that blacks were more likely to commit crime, not based on the grounds of reasonable suspicion. Waddington et al (2004) adds that the police devote time to specifically target BME communities due to their predispositions. The Equality of Human Rights commission evaluates the police since the Macpherson report and acknowledges that they have made progress in many areas such as recruitment (Bennetto, 2009). However, is concerned that there has been no long term drop in BME stop and search statistics and concludes that racial prejudice is still evident within the police (Bennetto, 2009).
It appears that there is disparity within arrest’s on the basis of ethnicity, per 1000 population for each ethnicity 84 blacks were arrested in comparison 26 whites in 2009/10 (Newburn, 2008). These figures show that blacks are subjected to disproportionate rates of arrest and are around three times more likely to be arrested than whites. In 1999, arrest statistics showed that black cases that were terminated are higher than white cases (17% and 13% respectively) (Newburn, 2008). This illustrates racial profiling as officers have presumptions of guilt about BME’s which do not contain enough evidence for prosecution (Newburn, 2008). However, court termination statistics in 2005/06 show very little difference in cases terminated by the CPS, 22% for black and 21% for white (Newburn, 2008). It seems problematic to identify disproportionality within the use of arrest proving that the police have made progress in this area.
Bourne (2001) argues that if one ignores the “ideological sophistry or political gain” (Bourne, 2001, p 19) of the Macpherson report (1999), it believes that if someone came into contact with a racist institution that person is likely to become contaminated by racism. To understand this theoretically it is possible to apply Edwin Sutherland’s theory of differential association. Differential association theory is criticised by some academics for being narrow minded in terms of what prevents the process from occurring (Newburn, 2007; Jones, 2009). It was later revised by Cressey (1954) due to it being difficult to empirically test. Fully developed in 1939, differential association is concerned with how individuals learn deviant traits from each other through a process of communication and will become deviant if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages (Jones, 2009).
The controversial Secret Policemen documentary (2003), demonstrated how the overt racism of the 1970’s and 1980’s has been forced underground in the form of covert racism moving into the 21st century. Mark Daly went undercover as a police officer recruit within the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and found that recruits were expressing racial hatred towards a BME officer who was being fast tracked through the recruitment process to meet diversification targets. The findings proved that the police were not doing enough to carefully monitor recruits, and demonstrated how differential association can occur. If for example, Mark Daly was a recruit, communication with officers upholding racial prejudice may result in the recruit adopting parallel views, thus continuing racial prejudice within the police.
Macpherson’s (1999) answer is to diversify the police service by recruiting more BME officers. To an extent, this has been achieved. Statistics show that the number of BME officers increased from 2.9% in 2003 to 5% in 2013 (Berman and Dar, 2012). Although it could be argued that the current fast-track diversification strategy is resulting in racial hatred, as demonstrated in the Secret Policemen (2003). Nevertheless, this increase in BME officers is partially due to the BPA who provide extensive support to BME recruits, serving officers and support staff. Evidence also exists that the METBPA is providing officers with renewed confidence in terms of reporting racial discrimination, for example MPS internal racism allegation amplified from 16 in 2006-2007 to 42 in 2011-2012 (Dangerfield, 2012). Although alarming at face value, exposing internal racism within the MPS, it could be argued that the statistics are a result of increased confidence in terms of reporting racial discrimination, not that the MPS is becoming ‘more racist’.
Bourne (2001) states that diversification is a positive step but unless BME officers are put in places of power, racial prejudice within police practice and policy is unlikely to change. This exposes the police service to another form of racial discrimination which is promotional opportunities for BME officers. Police population statistics in 2012 reveal that of the 6678 BME police officers within England and Wales, only 115 hold high ranking positions at chief inspector or above (Sedghi, 2012). This can be blamed on white senior officers upholding a racial prejudice which hampers the promotional opportunities given to BME officers (Muir, 2013b). O’Neil and Holdaway (2007b) disregard accusations that BME officers are less able than white officers stating that ‘window dressing’ does not exist within BME officer recruitment and are no less able than white officers. Referring to Bourne’s (2001) argument, the lack of BME officers holding influential positions within the police will result in policing policy and practice continuing to disproportionately target BME communities. This is evidence of how the power of the white senior officer is distorting the CJS. Furthermore, the Morris Inquiry (2004) found disproportionate use of disciplinary procedures against BME officers which O’Neil and Holdaway (2007b) argue is clear evidence of racial prejudice.
In 2011, Britain witnessed widespread rioting across the country following the shooting of Mark Duggan. The media blamed the BME community of Tottenham for causing the disorder labelling them as ‘hooligans’ (Newburn et al, 2011). Theresa May stated it was “sheer criminality” (May, 2011), academics blamed the riots on economic deprivation (Newburn et al, 2011). However, what is overshadowed by media excitement and hasty explanations is the oppression of BME communities at the hands of a racially prejudice police. The initial cause of the riot might be better described as a simmering BME community as a direct result of disproportionate use of power from a racist police force which following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, boiled over. This resulted in the BME community imitating the race riots of the 1970’s and 1980’s by uniting in self-defence against the police.
The evidence discussed highlights that racial profiling exists in the police resulting in misuse of power and ultimately leading to overrepresentation of BME’s within the CJS. The police have made significant steps in some areas including arrest and diversification however, in terms of stop and search and promotional opportunities for BME officers; front line and senior white police officers are creating disproportionality through use of power. This is causing a collapse of trust within police-community relations which is resulting in disorder. The police have eradicated to an extent overt racism which was evident prior to the Macpherson report (1999). However, racism has mutated forming covert racism which is demonstrated through stop and search statistics, promotional opportunity for BME officers and the Secret Policemen (2003). Unless BME police officers are given influential roles within the police institution, the situation for BME communities is unlikely to change and power will continue to be distorted.
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Power distorts the criminal justice system. Discuss with reference to corporation and state power.
By Paul Bridges
In 2012 it emerged coffee house chain Starbucks had paid just £8 million on its £3 billion revenues in tax since 1998 by use of a number of tax avoidance policies moving money abroad (BBC News 2013; Sheffer, 2013; Starbucks, 2014). With corporations such as Amazon and Google it is estimated the total lost in public funds is around £12 billion each year (Wright, 2013). In that same year a woman claiming income support, Hannah Sargent, failed to notify HMRC she had married and was now living with her husband. Between 2009 and 2011 she claimed £27 thousand in various benefits. Only one of these scenarios ended in a prosecution, that of Hannah Sargent, only one was considered illegal, only one caused a judge to state “Honest taxpayers are sick and tired of people like you taking their money”. Only one gained a criminal sanction (Stokesentinal, 2012).
Tax fraud, avoidance and benefit fraud are just a small example of how harmful acts are labelled and criminal justice responses distorted by power; this essay hopes to uncover the cause of this imbalance with reference to corporation and state power. Although criminal justice is distorted at each level and stage of the criminal justice system given word limitations this essay will focus on just one aspect of this distortion, the labelling and manipulation of what we deem a crime. Using academic literature and real life examples we will cover aspects of this distortion by the use of ideology, hegemony, labelling, moral panics, media and lobbying. Arguing that the criminal justice system is distorted comes only from an ideal, the idea of a perfect system that has never existed, nor will it. Rather than say distorted perhaps fundamentally imbalanced is more apt.
The iconic blindfold on the statute of Lady Justice adorned in many courtrooms and justice buildings throughout the world represents her blindness to the inequality of society. No matter who you are, rich or poor, bourgeoisie or proletariat, powerful or marginalised everyone is equal in law (Dakolias & Thachuk, 2000). There is however two problems with this, not only that the law is itself unequal even before trying to claim equality in enacting it but also its inability to live up to its aspirations. No matter how fair and idealistic the criminal justice system claims to be it is situated in a society that revolves around capitalism, the base in Marxist theory that everything else, the superstructure, sits upon (Morrison, 2006). Every aspect of our lives are shaped by capitalism, from our social interactions and pastimes to our sleeping patterns. Our justice system is no exception. Within this system power is the ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events, either in the form of individuals, such as Webber’s concept of power or structural in Marx’s class relations (Fulcher & Scott, 2011; Morrison, 2006). Arguably the state and capitalist corporations embody this. The capitalist class, those who own the ability to control our economy and resources to dictate their distribution play a large role in the structure of the criminal justice system (Morrison, 2006; White, 2008).
The creation of law is the creation of crime, only when an action is defined in law as an offence does it become a criminal act, harmful or not (Chambliss & Seidman, 1982; Christie, 2004; Jones, 2009). It is not the man on the street who defines what should and should not be a crime but members of parliament. The majority of whom are millionaire’s with many corporate connections, as far from the average member of our ever increasingly stratified society as you can get (Owen, 2010). Arguably the policies and laws they devise are just as far from being utilitarian. When thinking about financial loss through crime we think about getting robbed or burgled rather than price fixing, when thinking about criminal harm we think about an assault from a stranger rather than catching a virus in a unclean hospital or a plane crash caused by faulty safety checks (Ermann & Lundman, 2002; Sanders et al, 2010). The vast majority of the individuals in prison are young males with little qualifications and even less social capital; arrested for street crimes and held up as the enemy within (Wilson, 2014). As individuals we are brought into an ideology of control by law, selective criminality, taught without questioning what is really causing us the most harm, injury and deprivation (Box, 1983). It has been argued by theorists such as Marx, Steven Box and Steve Tomes law creation is not an exercise in keeping the population safe from harm, but rather making sure power relations stay as they are, that the structure of society as we know it keeps reproducing its inequalities and serves the interests of the powerful (Chambliss & Seidman, 1982; Taylor et al, 1973; Box, 1983; Tombs & Hillyard, 2004). Although written some time ago the law as an agent of social control is as evident today as it has always been, the Public Order Act of 1986 and The Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994 is an example of this, giving the police more powers to deal with protesters and make decisions if a protest for any cause is legal or illegal including powers over whether they are allowed to take place at all (Bridges & Sampson, 2007; BBC, 1999). The powerful control and push ideologies with a heavy hand to protect these pre-defined power distributions, led by their ability to define law and control the systems that keep it (Box, 1983).
This power can become double hermeneutic within its use of statistics; a spiral of gaining control lead by ideologies that empower the powerful and demonize the socially marginalized. Reiner’s (2010) politics of the police encapsulates this as communities lower down the social spectrum are surveyed and controlled far more then upper class estates. The formation of a ‘police property’ and increased scrutiny means that crime in these areas will more likely end up in the statistics and subsequently the media, informing and controlling the populations finger pointing at the problems within society. The ability to control and meld people’s opinions from official statistics into hegemonic rule is a fine art painted by both the state and corporations (Box, 1983). Of course criminology as a subject is also not immune to power relations, governments control a large portion of educational institutions activities; funding for projects and research can dictate directions of entire disciplines. The study of street crime filling the minds of many criminologists, feeding the self-reflective mirror of right wing policies and politics (Jones, 2009). Policy directions created by governments can search for post hoc justifications from criminologists. The ability for states to control not only the media’s display of crime but even its scientific study shows how far this imbalance has become imbedded within our society.
The labelling of crime by the state coincides closely with corporations and their interests. If a man steals from his employer it is theft, if his employer reduces his workers’ pay to increase profits it is good practise within the laws of capitalism (Box, 1983; Chambliss & Seidman, 1982). If an individual commits benefit fraud, as in our starting paragraph, it’s labelled a crime, if a corporation uses their wealth to employ financial experts to find loop holes for tax avoidance it’s just good business. What our criminal law decides to include as requiring a response to harms is dictated by the powerful to gain advantage. Steven Box (1983) describes a number of ways crime as an ideological construct are defined by those in power and used as a form of social control. First laws target the underprivileged and marginalised who are far more likely to appear in statistics; this is played out in concepts such as Reiner’s (2010) police property. They create the illusion that these marginalised groups are the most dangerous within our society, drug users, immigrants, benefit scroungers, the underclasses, all are targeted by the media and demonised. Arguable turned into small micro-moral panics to displace the attention of the masses of the true cause of their suffering (Thompson, 1998). Box argues it makes people dependent on the state for protection from an over panicked perception of street crime, making society cling to the true cause of harm, the powerful, like a drowning man clings to a wreckage. Finally Laws render invisible the true amount of harm caused by the state and corporations, warping the criminal justice system into a state that is seen as humanitarian, seemingly beyond repute (Box, 1983). This labelling and mystification leads to ideologies and moral boundaries set within an unbalanced and distorted criminal justice system and can be seen quite clearly in fact corporate manslaughter was only introduced in 2007 with its first conviction not until 2011 (Telegraph, 2011). These many crimes are not seen as crimes by the population due to hegemonic rule.
This is not to argue that all laws are for the benefit of the powerful. We all wish to avoid being murdered, robbed, assaulted or raped and in principle we all benefit from these laws, some more than others. However these acts are defined in such a way that actions of the state or corporations are excluded; acts that have the same outcome are re-labelled to negligence, malpractice, accidents and responded with ‘that’s just the way it is…sorry’ (Box, 1983). The ability of the state to dictate what is legal and illegal can go as far as the international level. The Iraq war is a good example of this, a long history of Hussein’s conflict with the west beginning since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 over oil pricing where the USA went to war to liberate Kuwait and its oil shortly after. Followed by a decade of arguments over the possibility of Iraq not complying with sanction to decommission any weapons of mass destruction in 2003, American and British troops invaded. Once the dust had settled the Chilcot report was launched in 2009 into the legality of the invasion on which we are still awaiting the outcome (The Iraq Inquiry, 2014). This lead to the telegraph (Seldon, 2009) to ask ‘is Tony Blair a War Criminal?’. Although still in investigation the breaches in both human rights and the killing of over one million Iraqi’s to date without any legal sanctions is a stark example of how state power distorts the outcome (Griffis, 2014).
The ability for states and corporations to define harm and therefore their own criminality seems dependent on various factors many not relating to harm at all. Lobbying plays a big part in policy creation, where corporations and state collide and collaborate in the best interest of capitalism (Cave & Rowell, 2014). The way our state and corporations deal with issues of psychoactive substances is a stark example of how profit plays its part in crime creation. Ecstasy for example is less harmful then alcohol, no one to date has ever died from direct poisoning or allergic reaction from Ecstasy however its use receives the harshest of sentences when brought to court (DrugScope, 2013; Kelly, 2006; Nutt, 2012). The Death of Leah Betts, an 18 year old who died of water intoxication in 1995 is cited by many as the risks of taking Ecstasy, appearing in The Sun paper for an extended period of time, arguably the start of a media campaign driven moral panic, an illogical reaction to the reality of the problem (Blackman, 2007; Murji, 1998). This is amplified by the amount of media coverage given to certain drug deaths over others, with Ecstasy deaths almost always being reported, disproportionally compared to any other (Nutt, 2012), one study found that in Scotland during the 1990s every single death related to Ecstasy was reported in the media (Foryth, 2001). In 2011 there were only 6 UK deaths related to Ecstasy-type drugs, (Drug Scope, 2013), in the same year there was 8,748 deaths from alcohol (Office for National Statistics, 2011). David Nutt, former chairman of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs, a government organisation to advise on drug harms and classification for the implementation of policy, in 2009 famously likened Ecstasy use to being less dangerous then horse riding (Nutt, 2009) and Hammersley et al (1999) with hill walking. The ability for the media to influence policy twined with corporations with huge lobbying power leads to a government driven by agendas of capitalist and moral entrepreneur’s interests rather than the interests of society (Thompson, 1998).
The drinks industry lobbying has arguably had a huge impact on what drugs are defined as criminal with reports of many undocumented meetings between the industry and MPs since 2010 over the failed minimum pricing of alcohol in the UK (Ross, 2013). The U-turn over the policy blamed by many on the lobbying efforts of the corporations with profits to lose (Gornall, 2014). The legality of certain actions, such as drug use, is not so much about harm then it is about social structure and power relations (Nutt, 2012). The state and corporations dictate what is illegal and subsequently what society sees as risky behaviour, warping and controlling capitalist interests to such an ingrained degree as to dictate our perceived risk taking actions.
Lobbying is only realistically within the realm of those with power, owning terms of debate to become the dominate argument, media spin, creating a following, controlling the web and gaining access to politicians are but a few of the tactics of lobbyists (Cave & Rowell, 2014). This is not to advocate the criminalisation of alcohol, but rather point out the relationship between individual autonomy when it comes to harms and corporate power. We are allowed the freedom of choice to consume harmful substances as long as certain individuals are making a profit. This situation is now so engrained into our everyday lives that it has permeated every aspect of our ethical considerations, solidifying hegemonic rule for those who dictate our consumerist behaviour. A mystification of who the true harmful individuals are within our society, accepting the official view of criminal behaviour, as dictated by state and corporations (Box, 1983). This leads to a false consciousness over the true nature of our crime problem. After the 2011 riots a number of individuals were given very harsh sentences, two of which whose only crime was to inciting disorder on social media site FaceBook, they gained four years in prison (BBC, 2011). Those who arguably caused the very root of the riots however, the police, state and bankers causing the economic crisis, gained no criminal justice sanctions at all. Law is created from the clashing of interests and the powerful will always make sure their interests come first (Tombs & Hillyard, 2004). Lady Justice seems to be peeking from behind her blindfold.
The ability for corporations to dictate what we ideologically believe in as being ethical behaviour comes in many forms, a good example of this is illegal downloading. Many researchers, corporations, and governments have associated digital piracy with real world theft, thus implicitly making connections with ethical considerations on the same level (Wall, 2007). The advertising operation by FACT (Federation against copyright theft) shows the downloading of a movie where the act is likened to stealing a car or a woman’s handbag. Illegal downloading is a crime created of profit maximising on behalf of the media industry, the losses cannot be calculated in any meaningful way given the unknown quantity of offenders and the unknown reality or whether those offenders would have brought the item if illegal downloading systems were not available (Yar, 2006). This twinned with the fact that it can increase the popularity and concert revenues of artists gives an ambiguous figure of harm, the corporations have not lost anything physical mealy the small potential to gain more profit (David, 2010; Moore, 2011). However it is treated with quite sever criminal sanctions if discovered. 5 years in jail, and a fine of up to $250,000 for the sharing of one song, stating that even lending a CD to your friends to copy is illegal and therefore labelled ethically wrong (RIAA, 2014). A hefty price to pay for an act that is impossible to determine its harm (RIAA, 2014). However where there is the possibility for money to be lost, corporations will push for law creation, stating facts that are self-created to change and enforce policy, warping the balance between the interests of those in power and the benefits to those without.
As we have seen in the many ways states and corporations deal with the law, it is not an exercise in equality or free from the agendas of the corporate elite and the politicians in their pockets. It shows rather the clashing of interests, in which the powerful have won (Box, 1983). This warping of the system can be so subtle in its execution most fail to see it, keeping the status quo as they see fit. Law creation is just one aspect of how the powerful gain advantage within our criminal justice system, the creation and spread of ideologies favourable to their agendas, the distortion of law enforcement and regulation, the bias of court processes, are all in their own way important factors in the perpetuation of corporate and state crime. We allow states and corporations to define ethics without question, even though the link between morality and the law is tenuous at best. Creating laws that are one sided and passing them off as fair, even though crime by corporations leads to greater economic harm then its street counterpart. In this way power warps the system, bends it to favour those who have it and make victims of those without. Criminology cannot follow crime as defined by law but must study acts causing the most harm within society, free from political pressure or corporate control (Christie, 2004; Grewcock, 2008; Hillyard & Tombs, 2004). Whether balance in the criminal justice system will ever be reached is a dubious question.
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Power Distorts the Criminal Justice System; Discuss with Reference to: Corporate Crime; State Power and Wealth
By Angus Ryan
‘Law is like a cobweb, it’s made for flies and smaller kinds of insects, so to speak, but lets the big bumblebees break through’ (Pearce, 1976, p. 86).
This essay evaluates how power distorts the criminal justice system. Using opposing definitions of power such as Weber’s and Foucault’s do we establish that resources and wealth are synonymous; and that resources are the pillars that define power. We go on to identify which actors in society control power and how they use this to achieve their goals. Using general and specific examples such as the Hillsborough 1989 disaster; pharmaceutical malpractice and the Kenyan mass killings do I illustrate how power in Britain distorts the CJS. Upon proving this distortion do we discern the efforts used to counteract this inequality. In reviewing committees such as the Serious Fraud Office; Independent Police Complains Commission and the International Crime Court do understand the success and failure of combating such a problem; and ultimately its inadequateness.
One of the key features and effects of power is the ability to operate beyond public scrutiny and therefore accountability. The media and official statistics omit corporate and state crime; providing a veil of secrecy over both protagonists of power. To the extent that the relatively invisible and thus unaccountable activities of the powerful produce social harm, creating a range of social problems, and exacerbate inequalities in social life. Within contemporary society, corporations are key actors with enormous social, economic, and political power. It is increasingly easy for corporate capital to roam in a relatively footloose fashion. As part of their struggle to secure and maintain increasingly privileged positions, it is in the interests of the powerful that certain activities of theirs be obscured from public scrutiny. Crimes committed by corporations and the state have far greater physical, economic, and social costs than those associated with ‘conventional’ criminals who are at the forefront of the contemporary criminal justice system; a fact not disputed by academics. Box (1983, p.3) agrees with this by stating that indictable offences are a crime problem; but not the crime problem. The problem he refers to is that of corporate and state crime. Corporations and states play key roles in defining the laws in which they constantly violate, as crime and power are inextricably linked phenomena in often contradictory ways.
The Concept of Power
Power, as a theme, is approached from several different theoretical viewpoints. By defining the principal definitions of power and who wields it can we understand how it distorts the criminal justice system. In essence, power is the ability that one actor can carry out their will regardless of resistance. It is based on resources and wealth, but is not synonymous with. This is similar to Weber’s (1978, p. 53) resource theory definition in Economy and Society, where he defines power as ‘ … the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests’. Weber holds a distributive approach to power, in which he views it as a zero-sum game; an increase in power for actor A corresponds with the decrease of power in actor B.
Similar to Weber’s definition is Parsons (1960) collective power. Parsons argued that power can be collected as an emerging resource; in that actor A and B cooperate to enhance their power over C. An example of collective power in contemporary society would be the state and wealthy corporations in capitalist societies combing their power over opposing ideologies or political parties. Whilst this definition can be seen to oppose Weber’s distribution, Heiskala (2001) combines the two by stating that the distribution of material benefits within a national economy can be analysed using both distributive and collective definitions of power. Therefore, for the sake of this essay, both Parsons and Weber’s definition of power will fall under resource theory. Weber and Parson’s resource theory stands as an analogy between money and power. Just as money functions as a generalised mechanism for securing desiderata available within the economy; they suggest that power functions in a similar manner in the political system. Clegg (1979, p. 123) supports resource theory by stating ‘power in organisations derives from control of the means and methods of production.’ Whereas opposing sociologists such as Foucault (1991) and Kusch (1991) define power as structural.
Foucault rejects resource theory, instead he conceives power to be a network of relations and that identities of actors are not determined independently prior to the power relation; but instead represent a state of that network. He argues that power is not a possession; but is ubiquitous and operates in day to day interactions between people and institutions. It is more of a strategy than a possession; he called this the structural approach to power theory. Foucault identifies four conditions which must prevail simultaneously for power relations to exist. Firstly, a power relation always concerns a game situation in which actors are involved in a strategic analysis. Second, constraint by plain violence is excluded from the definition of power relation. Thirdly, the relation between actors is rationalised and institutionalised to some extent. Lastly, power relation is interrelated to other relations such as production or exchange. For these reasons, Foucault’s definition of power relates to macro level institutional complexes such as corporations. Despite this, he identified micro-relations as the mechanisms of power between actors. These mechanisms he identified as dispositif. Kusch uses Foucault’s conditions to combine both structural and resource theories by utilising Foucault’s dispositif; in that the strategic encounters between actors of the mechanisms of power are in essence the tools of Weber’s distributive power. Because of Foucault’s somewhat metaphysical definition, this essay will define power in terms of resource theory, whilst pertaining aspects that Kusch and Thompson (1956) agree with such as power is only applicable to internal structures of formal organisations.
Using Dowding’s (1996, p. 4) definition of ‘power over’, meaning that actor A has power over actor B and therefor in the political sense the power to make B do X; most people see ‘power over’ as most significant in politics. This is referred to as ‘social power’ when an actor deliberately changes the incentive structure of another actor or actors to bring about outcomes (Dowding 1991, p. 48). This incentive structure, or Foucault’s dispositif and Weber’s resource theory, dictates the range of power by the advantages and disadvantages from behaving in one way or another. Typically, actors have social power over others to the extent that they can manipulate others incentive structures. Such as removing options, or increasing and decreasing the benefit of an action. An example of this would be the state agencies such as the police having power over citizens.
Sociologists favour a reputational model when identifying power. First used by Hunter (1953), it consists of asking well informed ‘judges’ of the most influential people in their community; in which those occurring more often are considered the most powerful. Political scientists, on the other hand, apply that those who successfully initiate or oppose key decisions are then regarded as the most powerful (Walton, 1966). Both themes amply indicate that the governing body or actor within society will control the power, as well as those with the most resources. Lukes (1974) represents this in saying power requires agency; as the essence of agency is making decisions and entailing responsibility. In defining power and how it is identified; as macro-level institutions with the means of production and exchange, it can only be represented in modern societies as corporations and state agencies.
Evidence of how Power Distorts the CJS via Wealth, State Agencies and Corporate Crime
Power, when it is exercised, is exercised over issues. The main consideration of organisations then is which issues are critical to the ideology of the organisation. Typically, these issues will occur in the world economy, concentrating on strengthening the organisation. If actors of power can solve an issue then they will use their power to do so. In particular, the state utilises law to prohibit certain behaviours as well as requirements of others. By exercising social power and therefor social control; the state constructs a contingent criminal justice system which favours itself and allows for the distortion of power, or in other words, state-organised crime. Sumner (2004) points out that this contingent change of criminal behaviour in some aspects of history and not others is because of ideological constructs. This inequality of social injustice differentiates between what is allowed and what is not simply on social status and occupation.
What constitutes laws of serious crime varies over historical periods and between cultural groups, as the changes and contradictions between and within powerful interest groups and the shifting alliances of the less powerful bring about small and large tilts of society’s power axis (Chambliss 1981). It is not justifiable to conclude that criminal law reflects a value-consensus among competing interest groups. Instead, it is plausible to view criminal laws as the outcome of clashes between groups with structurally generated conflicting interests, and the laws latent function is to provide the powerful with a resource to reduce the ability of conflicting groups. It is a resource used to punish and deter resisters and thereby protect the established social order. This inequality is evident in how criminal laws against robbery, murder and assault do protect universally; but not equally. They fail to protect the less powerful from being killed and deprived of what they possess; or physically and psychologically damaged through the negligence and greed of the relatively more powerful. For instance, criminal law excludes forms of assault whose injuries become apparent years later; such as those resulting from working in a polluted factory environment where health risks were known to the employer but concealed from the employee (Swartz 1975). Such acts are referred to as corporate crime (white collar crime) or state organised crime.
Similar to Schrager’s and Short’s (1978) definition of corporate crime, it can be defined as illegal acts of commission or omission of one individual or more in a legitimate formal organisation; in accordance with the goals of the organisation. Under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, criminal law only defines some types of avoidable killing as murder, whilst excluding others resulting from acts of negligence. A predominant example of how power distorts the CJS would be the pharmaceutical industry. In Braithwaite’s (1984) Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry, he examines the extent of power corruption by revealing the record breaking transgression which is engrained within the structure. In using social power and dispositifs do corporations utilise bribery; financial fraud; trust violations; unsafe manufacturing; and corrupt safety evaluations to sell unapproved drugs. In particular, the pharmaceutical industry makes extensive use of offshore bases to avoid taxation, and to evade effective controls on manufacturing and quality assurance. In March 2013, a supposedly British firm (Rotapharm) was suspected of supplying inferior medicines which were ineffective and potentially harmful to Kyrgyzstan. Upon government investigation, the firm were based in the British Virgin Islands (holding a nominal office in the United Kingdom), owned by a Belorussian citizen, and supplied medicines which were made in Egypt (Leigh, Hall, 2013). When drugs are produced that fail to meet national standards, it is common to dump those batches in countries with less exacting quality standards (Dukes, 2014).
In marketing known dangerous products do deaths result from an organisations reluctance to maintain appropriate safety standards (Erickson, 1976); namely car manufacturers refusing to recall and repair thousands of known defective vehicles as the calculated costs of meeting civil damages will be less (Swigert, Farrell, 1981). This inequality of punishment demonstrates that those most powerful can receive separate consequences from performing the same crime.
State crime, on the other hand, can be defined as acts defined by law as criminal and committed by state officials in the pursuit of their job as representatives of the state (Chambliss, 1989). State agencies utilise power to violate human rights through the use of unaccountability or violations of criminal law (Ross, 2000). A notable example of unaccountability would be the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield, England (Scraton, 1999).
A human stampede resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuring hundreds more due to police services allowing entry over the safe capacity of the stadium. Responsibility of the incident was directed to the police. In response to this, the police revealed statements blaming fans by pertaining to exceptional levels of drunkenness; ticketlessness; violence; and conspiracies to arrive late to the stadium and force entry. One year later, the Lord Justice Taylor’s report was released. The panel found no evidence to verify allegations made from the statements, concluding that no criminal charges be brought against any individual or body on the grounds of insufficient evidence. In 2012 the Hillsborough Independent Panel was created to review claims of public opinion against the police service. It found that police had deliberately amended more than 160 witness statements in order to acquit themselves of responsibility (Hillsborough Independent Panel, 2012). Despite inquests proving the transgression of police conduct resulting in death, no criminal verdicts have ensued.
Forbye to unaccountability is violations of criminal law. State agencies use social power to position themselves beyond their own law and commit acts which would otherwise be criminal. Brandabur (2007) reveals that during the 1952 and 1960 Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, instead of being a humanitarian mission of aid; it was actually a conquest of divide and rule by Britain through the use of violence and murder. The Kikuyu people in Kenya found their land being confiscated and their labour coerced by British development projects such as the building of railroads and cash crops. After an influx of some thirty thousand colonists; the Kikuyu’s resisted the foreign policy in grouping together to create the Mau Mau; an organisation of loyalty to reject British policy. So effective was this organisation that the colonial bureaucracy sought to break it at any cost. This took the form of military punitive raids designed to force the natives to submit. In campaigns of extermination, British army officers launched several attacks that included wiping out entire villages of men, women, and elderly using bayonets, rifles, and fire (Elkins, 2005). In recent response to this genocidal oppression of violence, the UK states ‘the claim is not valid because of the amount of time since the abuses were alleged to have happened, and that any liability rested with the Kenyan authorities after the independence in 1963’ (British Broadcasting Agency, 2011).
How the CJS Responds to the Distortion of Power
So far, evidence leads us to believe that those with less power are more likely to be criminalised. However, in contemporary society increasing amounts of effort is utilised in reducing the distortion of power with corporate and state crime. In response to corporate crime, committees and reports are established such as the Serious Fraud Office; an independent UK department created under the Criminal Justice Act 1987 to prosecute serious fraud and corruption in the enforcement of protection acts, namely the Bribery Act 2010 (Serious Fraud Office, 2015).
Additionally, the Independent Police Complains Commission is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales responsible for the handling of complaints made against police forces. Formed in 2004 by the Home Office, the IPCC operates under statutory powers such as the 2002 Police Reform Act independent of political parties and the government. Recently, investigation is ongoing onto the previously mentioned Hillsborough disaster. Despite previous reports such as Lord Justice Taylor’s, public outcry has set in motion continuing investigation into state crime in attempts to make those responsible held accountable.
In 2002 the International Crime Court was established; a committee of 140 countries with unprecedented international jurisdiction over state crimes. Endorsement of the ICC requires states to be signatories and ratified members. It consists of an Assembly of State Parties (ASP) provide an international system of justice which addresses heinous crimes against humanity upon the failure of a state to do so. This includes: crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity. Despite this, only 36 individuals have been publicly indicted. The ICC is greatly restricted by short comings such as: it holds no jurisdiction over non-signatory members; it lacks social control if countries withdraw such as the USA; and it is limited by its reliance on signatory nations to bring individuals into its domain as it lacks a policing arm. The most distinguishing short coming however is that the prosecution branch only focuses on individual criminal actors; and not on the most important social actor which is state crime policy itself (Mullins, 2004).
Although recent effort has attempted to reduce the distortion of power in the CJS; it is evident that there still lies a huge inequality of justice. Serious crime does not refer to behaviours which objectively cause society the most harm. Instead they represent ideological constructs aimed at criminalising the powerless and rendering invisible avoidable harm created by state and corporate crime. Max Weber defines this type of entrepreneur mind as ‘adventurers’ capitalism’; people orientated to the exploitation of political opportunity (Sumner, 2004, p.345). Politics and law continue to play a role in the production and maintenance of constitutions of serious crime that exclude corporations and the state alike. In sponsoring crime surveys such as the British Crime survey (sponsored by the Home Office) do they continue a veil of secrecy over real crime and exacerbate power distortion in the criminal justice system.
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Power distorts the criminal justice system. Discuss with reference to the three following themes: corporations, wealth, and state power.
Although the establishment maintains a particular narrative in respect of the English and Welsh Criminal Justice System (CJS); this essay argues that paradoxically it is the CJS which betrays the purpose, integrity and self-declared philosophy of this narrative. The CJS is comprised of several institutions and governmental organisations which work in partnership to deliver often inconsistent forms of justice, as a consequence of the dominant capitalist ideology (Quinney, 1977). This essay will emphasise why radical change to the current system is required by focusing on three themes that distort the English and Welsh CJS: corporations, wealth, and state power. In doing so, it will offer a critical perception on how the power of these three entities can distort the purpose and practice of the CJS. This paper will primarily utilise a Marxian perspective.
The justification for selecting these three themes is clear. The capitalist system in which the CJS operates is susceptible to corruption and distortion by corporations, wealth and state power as a consequence of its very nature (Pearce, 1976; Box, 1983; Greenberg, 1981). Steven Box exposed the inequality of capitalist legal systems and described capitalist laws as ‘ideological constructs’, which protect the powerful and marginalise the powerless, in his publication, Crime, Power, and Mystification (Box, 1983). Box (ibid.) provides the essence of the argument presented in this essay – capitalism (the prevailing economic system) predisposes society to criminogenic institutions (i.e. corporations), that contributes to producing great wealth disparity, which in itself can be considered criminogenic.
The concept of power must be understood in order to comprehend how it can distort the CJS. By paraphrasing Giddens (2001) it can be defined as, the ability of an individual or group, despite resistance, to prioritise their own interests by influencing others, sometimes by means of force, but often the powerful will rationalise their conduct by using force alongside the development of ideas. This reflects Max Weber’s notion of power, which can most aptly be described as ‘the ability to get your own way’, as outlined in his publication, Economy and Society (Weber, 1978/1956). A Marxist view maintains that the people who own the industry and other productive assets – the economic property (including the media) – have the vast majority of the wealth at their disposal and through that ownership also have control of the processes of socialisation (such as education together with the state). In short this Marxist view maintains the ruling class owns the means of production, which in turn provides them with power (Nehring, 2013).
Jewkes (2011) highlights the impact of media control by this dominant group. The ruling class using the media creates ‘false consciousness’ for the powerless class and their subservient situation (Fulcher and Scott, 2011), thus distorting the reality of capitalist institutions such as the CJS and the ‘real interests’ of those who are manipulated by it. The concept of false consciousness can be related to Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony. This is when the ruling class manipulate society to gain control, which then becomes the cultural norm (Bates, 1975). Corporations and those with wealth form the economic base which demands that the superstructure, the state, responds to its needs.
Conflict theory – rather than the consensus view, which is similar to the utilitarian position of Jeremy Bentham’s ‘fundamental axiom’, that is, ‘The greatest happiness of the greatest number’ (Burns, 2005, p. 46) – sees society as being composed of different conflicting interest groups (Turk, 1969). It perceives the function of society and the law as serving the dominant class and handicapping others, thus producing conflict (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Conflict theory is associated with Marxist criminology, which arose in the 1970s (Greenberg, 1981). Jones (2013) asserts this should be thought of as a more specific form of conflict theory, whereby the only conflict is the inherent conflict that the capitalist society creates. The function of Marxist criminological theory is to examine the contradictions of capitalism (i.e. wealth inequality, economic crises and the capitalist state) and understand why and how they construct a criminogenic society (Quinney, 1977; Greenberg, 1981). Thus, the school of thought is constructive in analysing the criminogenic features of the English and Welsh CJS and how the power of capitalism may distort it.
For Marxist criminological theory crime is a material problem; a problem which requires the consideration of the ‘historical development and operation of the capitalist economy’ (Quinney, 1977, pp. 31-32). As Quinney (1977) emphasises, conclusions are generated by the application of the dialectic; that is, the fluidity of the material world and its profound effect on all development – the foundations of Marxian theory. The relationship between the political economy and the CJS is understood by using the Marxist understanding of how the state is constructed as a response to economic requirements; ‘Political institutions are a superstructure on the economic foundation’ (Lenin, 2008/1977). The CJS is included in that superstructure, thus being affected by the prevailing economic system.
Greenberg (1981) alerts us to a ‘popular misconception’ of Marxian theory; that a society’s economic system exclusively defines their criminal justice policies. In order to dispel this misconception Greenberg (ibid.) notes that Marx hypothesised that the mode of production would only determine the general character of a society rather than every detail. The economic system is now in question and therefore, will need to be explored when it comes to discussing corporations, wealth and state power. To quote Amatrudo (2009, p. 23), ‘It is not possible to do Criminology and ignore the economic context of criminal activity’.
Marxian criminological theory has aided in exposing the actuality of crimes of the powerful due to the media’s neglect of such phenomena (Jewkes, 2011). Crimes of the powerful refer in part to corporate crime, or more generally, white-collar crime. Edwin Sutherland describes white-collar crime as, ‘A crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation’ (Surtherland, 1983, p. 7). Evidence provided by Box (1983) and Snider (1993) suggests that crime committed by corporations have a greater economic, social and physical impact on society than any other. Given the nature of a capitalist society such evidence still remains relevant. It’s one such truism that is lost on neo-classical/conservative criminology, whose main fixation is on the blue-collar crimes committed on the street (Box, 1983). This incomprehension by conventional schools of criminological thought is also extended to the public’s awareness, or rather lack of. It’s claimed that this misapprehension of white-collar crime is a result of ‘collective ignorance’ (ibid.) No doubt such ignorance can be owed to the impact of cultural hegemony (Jewkes, 2011).
Box (1983) estimated a ratio of 7:1 regarding deaths resulting from occupational illnesses and accidents in comparison to deaths recorded as homicides respectively. With Jones (2013) stating that in recent year’s greater competition has emerged, due to low-cost production countries such as China, applying pressure to the UK’s free market to deregulate, if anything corporations have a greater motive to respond to the demands of the economy unlawfully. Box (1983) echoes this sentiment when he argues that if a corporation is finding it testing to make profit legitimately, they will be relatively content with doing so illegitimately. A corporation will rely on its derived power to enable such operating practices.
Much of corporate crime is not handled by the police, but rather regulatory agencies which embrace a ‘compliance’ method to address such deviance due to the argument that prosecution is an expensive route to acquiring the satisfactory regulatory standards (Croall, 2007). Moreover, compiling an adequate amount of evidence against any one person within a corporation and establishing the required mens rea essential for securing a criminal prosecution is considered problematic (Slapper and Tombs, 1999). This neglect of corporate crime by law enforcement somewhat discredits the integrity of CJS.
However, since 2007 there has been evidence of progress regarding legislation in the form of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2007). Nevertheless, academic thinking still suggests corporate offences are not prosecuted to the same extent as other crimes (Jones, 2013). Given the power of corporations in their relationship to the machinery of government through their centrality at the base of the political economy, it seems perfectly clear that they would use that power to influence the CJS. Regulation rather than prosecution; it is arguable that the corporations are largely policing themselves with the resulting distortion of the CJS. Box (1983) concurs, arguing that the capitalist system forces corporations to apply pressure as a means of controlling their environment, which in turn results in distorting the law that aims to prevent the violation of regulations.
Box (1983) draws attention to the corrupt governmental agencies and multinational corporations which are a necessity to the survival of the capitalist system. One major question arising from Box’s work is how do these corrupt, criminogenic corporations infect and undermine the governmental agencies that form the CJS? By turning to the Marxist stance of selective law enforcement it is possible to scrutinise the purpose of the CJS in relation to its treatment of corporate crime. As noted above, the power of corporations distorts the CJS and a reflection of this is to be found upon examining its markedly cavalier attitude towards white-collar crime (Nelken, 2012).
Tombs (2009) argues that law and politics play fundamental roles in excluding corporate crime from governing definitions of crime and deviance, suggesting that most forms of corporate crime are ‘decriminalised’. Whilst corporate crime does fall victim to the ‘dark-figure of crime’ (Maguire, 2012), Haralambos and Holborn (2000) report that a Marxist position of selective law enforcement argues that the sporadic prosecution of ruling-class criminality allows for the false claim that the law benefits everyone in society, and that the state embodies public concerns. In other words, society starts to believe the view of consensus thinking. Furthermore, they note that it creates the illusion that ruling-class crime is a small phenomenon (ibid.). The role of the media is crucial in this regard (Jewkes, 2011), thus illuminating the exercise of power.
To be clear, when discourse surrounding wealth is concerned, the focus is on wealth disparity and the benefits that come with being a member of the ‘top 1%’ in comparison to the majority of people’s experiences in the CJS. Wealth carries with it numerous benefits. For example, as Henri and Hutnyk (2013) point out, the proletarian ‘street gangs’ that were charged with various anti-social behaviour offences during the 2011 summer riots are not very different from the bourgeois gangs such as the Bullingdon Club. Each behaved in a violent and destructive manner; the difference being, street gangs are often prosecuted and sent to prison, and Bullingdon Club members are sent to Parliament (ibid.). The critical text, The Rich Get Richer and The Poor Get Prison, aptly sums up this premise of class conflict in its title (Reiman and Leighton, 2009). Despite the book concentrating on the USA’s justice system the mutual neo-liberal political economy makes it applicable to the Anglo-Welsh CJS as well. It begs the question, does the current system allow for wealth to effectively buy immunity from the law?
Box (1987) argues that lower classes are more disposed to criminal proceedings. Whilst this is in part due to the CJS primarily focusing on lower-class crime (Braithwaite, 1979), it is also a result of wealthy people having the means to defend themselves. The existence of Legal Aid is evidence of a requirement by those without wealth in order to achieve some kind of parity in the courts with those who have wealth. The degree to which Legal Aid balances this disparity will always be disputed, nevertheless it could be argued that without this ‘balance’ it is inevitable that wealth will be powerful and distort the CJS. A clear example of wealth power distorting the CJS would be the obvious disparity between the treatment of those who engage in high level tax fraud and those who defraud the social security system (Cook, 2006).
Box (1987) concluded there was a correlation between unemployment and crime, albeit a small one, terming it the ‘U-C Relationship’. Perhaps more significantly was his uncovering of the comparatively stronger relationship between remuneration inequality and crime (ibid.). Spitzer (1975) went further, arguing that not only did low socio-economic status increase the likelihood of an individual resorting to crime, but also increased the probability of a person being victimised by the CJS. He developed the Marxian concept of ‘surplus population’ to argue that a prominence had been given to targeting street crime because the often unemployed individuals who commit such crimes are surplus to the labour market and become over-represented in crime statistics. With the English and Welsh penal system becoming a ‘privatised for profit venture’ (McDonald, 1994), it could be argued that capitalism, and therefore the wealthy, has a vested interest for doing this. Certainly the wealthy are powerful enough to ensure that they are not targeted in the same way.
Crimes of the powerful also come in the form of state crime, which Marxism has been fundamental in exposing (Green and Ward, 2012). Due to corporations and wealth forming the economic base of society, it’s the job of the state to protect that base and secure the capitalist order (Quinney, 1977). One of the ways in which the state assumes its power is to establish legitimacy, as Marx, Gramsci and Weber have all argued (Chambliss, 1989). The law and justice systems play a vital role in establishing such legitimacy (ibid.). Political power can often involve the use of violent means. In The Civilizing Process, Norbert Elias argues that the state has a monopoly of legitimate violence (Elias, 1994). One of the ways in which it does this is to utilise the law enforcement agencies that form the CJS.
In terms of the police force at an institutional level, some of the behaviour of their actors (Orgreave, Hillsborough, and the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest) can be considered as manifestations of dehumanisation that emerge when a corrupt institution utilises them as a tool for state oppression. As Quinney (1977, p. 44) notes, crimes committed by agents of the state are ‘crimes of domination’. Coupled with the analysis by Green and Ward (2012), who argue that state agents commit state crime to achieve a particular objective, it’s then possible to turn to Chambliss (1989) to offer an explanation when he attributes transgressions by state officials to inherent contradictions in the creation of a state.
Green and Ward (2012) assert that state legislation makes it possible for state agencies to engage in organisational deviance. For example, it became necessary for the Supreme Court to rule that a benefit claimant did not have to repay overpaid benefits in the event of error by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) (The Child Poverty Action Group v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKSC 54). The DWP fails to explain that such a repayment would be voluntary, and that they do not have recourse to common law to seek repayment. An example of criminogenic state power being curtailed, it could be argued, was the introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) (PACE). As Chambliss (1989) points out, there are inherent contradictions that result in a tendency for state officials to violate the criminal law. PACE was introduced as response to the police breaching civil liberties (Newburn, 2007). A whole series of codes and practices clarified the role of the police with the intention to maintain liberty, rights and freedoms.
In both the above examples it is the prevailing practice of the whole agency which designates them as state crime. If it were just one or two people in the DWP attempting to recover overpayments when they were not due it would be individual crime; because the practice is endemic within the DWP, it becomes state crime. In regards to the police; the mere requirement for an act of Parliament to codify what the police can and can’t do in respect of civil liberties, suggests criminogenic activity on a far greater scale than a few ‘bent’ coppers. This institutional transgression of civil liberties amounted to distortion of the CJS. Sherman (1978) makes it clear that individual activity cannot be regarded as a state crime. There has to be whole agency or ‘dominant coalition’ involvement (ibid.). That is to say the people at the top shape the way the agency operates in order to achieve the operational goals. Corrupt practices are a means to this and amount to state crime.
In conclusion, there are similarities in the distortions of the CJS by corporations and the state. Corruption on the part of the state agencies allows corporations to gain influence over the state (Green and Ward, 2012). In both structures criminogenic activity by lone individuals are unlikely to demonstrate CJS distortions as a result of corporate or state activity. Likewise, both structures have the criminogenic advantage of utilising self-regulation or self-policing. As a result neither the state, nor its institutions, will find itself in the dock charged with criminal offences. There may be inquiries or investigations but no prosecutions as the CJS would seem to require. This is a major distortion which can be explained by the notion that the state does not prosecute itself due to official resistance and a juridical/ideological culture that prevents it from doing so (ibid.).
Corporate power has found itself criminally liable in recent years but only in a few cases. Again, self-regulation, and as referred to, the cost of legal action, seem to hinder the requirement for the CJS to intervene. Anecdotally, it is often reported with some incredulity about how little a corporation has been fined for transgression of regulations (Jewkes, 2011). Equality under the law becomes an empty platitude when this is compared to the disproportion, both in number and severity, of punishments meted out to benefit claimants who defraud. The unequal distribution of wealth, which the capitalist economy so heavily relies upon, produces mass inequality. It’s this inequality under the law that is endemic within our capitalist society which distorts the CJS.
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Social Psychology of Violence and Crime
Perspective on the relationship between class and violent criminality.
By Paul Bridges
Violence is a word that conjures strong emotion in most people; as a society we are both fascinated and appalled by it, represented in the media as both entertainment and moral outrage. It is a term taken for granted in everyday life, however its definition is very hard to pin down. Just as crimes change over time and between societies so does the social acceptability of violent action. What once might be considered to be acceptable beating for teaching a misbehaving student in the early twentieth century would today cause national outrage (Jones, 2000; Ray, 2011). With this in mind our definition of violent crime will be taken from a more legal then sociological perspective to fit in with the statistical and essay based boundaries. The link between violence and class without the implication of legal definitions is still up for debate. Although the term violence does not appear in the offences against the person Act 1861 assault ranges from ‘the intentional or reckless causing of another person to anticipate the immediate application of physical force to the body’ to the worst ‘actual bodily harm’ and ‘grievous bodily harm’ as well as rape and sexual assault including any form of violence while in the process of committing other criminal offences (Bridges, 2007; Jones, 2000). This essay hopes to show the authors position within the cause debate, combining a number of theories which claim to explain this phenomenon with a sociological backdrop. Using the Civilisation and pseudo-pacification process as a base to spring learning theories of criminal violence into a more rounded argument. This essay however, given limitations, only considers instrumental violence as a frame and does not go into depth on expressive forms such as violence for a deeper emotional sake including hate or stimulus other than material gain, the two however are rarely mutually exclusive (Ray, 2011).
There is a stark connection between class and violent street crime; not only is it argued there is less violent crime in countries with a higher level of equality, but those on the bottom of the social spectrum are more prone to committing such crimes as well as becoming victims (Equality Trust, 2014; Hsieh & Pugh 1993; Levi, 2007; Wilkinson, 2004). Sink and council estates form the environment for violent street crime, localised to those with very little social and economic capital, unemployment, poor education, amenities and social disorganisation. This trend has been apparent and explored since the very first French crime statistics were published in the early nineteenth century (Jones, 2000).
There is of course statistical problems with the connection between class and violence that must be addressed. The consent imbalance of police activity and resources allocated to the lower classes and sink estates is vast in comparison to the upper classes, as Reiner’s (2010) the politics of the police notes, they are considered to be ‘police property’ owned and controlled not due to any criminal conduct but to the nature of social hierarchy. The apparent high crime rates in these areas also cause more monitoring with which comes a loop of criminality, the more you look the more you will find irrelative of the area, the reverse is true for upper-class environments. Crime statistics can be very unreliable depending on what is recorded by the police. In some communities for instance violence as domestic abuse may be a norm, invoking no response or report to the authorities (Ray, 2011). Twinned with the ability for the wealthy to conceal their violence, play it off as socially acceptable or not factor into our predefined notions of violence. Even if it is reported it might not go down in government statistics as shown by Hampshire police’s recent exposure for failing to report 40% of crimes made aware to them (BBC, 2014). Millions of people die each year to the indirect actions of those in the upper classes by systemic or structural violence yet few feature in our statistics, as such we need to keep them in view with a cynical eye (Jones, 2000; Maguire, 2007; Levi et al, 2007; Zizek, 2008).
Within the many theories that try to explain violent crime and class our basis theory, surprisingly, tries to explain the opposite; why are we not more violent? The civilisation process devised by Elias (2000, 1939) describes a state of society in the middle ages before the State and rise of capitalism; where power and wealth were the sole domain of those who used violence, as such it was common place, crime was rife and so was brutality. This was considered by Elias to be our true nature, animistic, Darwinian, echoed in the works of Freud and Fromm and later evolutionary writers such as Wrangham and Peterson (1996) taking cues from other primates; the true ‘nature’ of man has been under debate for centuries (Ray, 2011; Talor et al, 2006), nevertheless the biological theories of violence leave the question of the huge gap between classes unanswered. From this violence, according to Elias, was born the civilising and pacification of society, built upon in the form of the pseudo-pacification process by Hall (2007). First there was a change in the political economy caused by the development of capitalism and the creation of a balance between independence and interdependence (The I/WE balance) much in the same way as Durkhiems movement from mechanical to organic solidarity. Trade was required in order for the steady growth of society, trade that could not exist with any stability with the constant threat of violence around every bend. With this came the rise of states and state power. In order to both control and protect that trade, the power of violence was centralised to become only legitimate if used by the state and the creation of a large standing army disconnected everyday people from violent actions (Ray, 2011). Side by side with the rise in capitalism, the merchant class and growing bourgeoisie came to emulate upper class values and increased the culture of non-violence (Ray, 2011).
This violence did not disappear however mealy sublimated into other more socially accepted forms of aggression, capitalist ventures in business, consumerism or sporting pursuits allowing for a level of aggression displacement, an outlet for human nature (Ray, 2011; Talor et al, 2006). However with the civilisation process came the prospect of de-socialisation, increased violence caused by a return to past economic social ordering and the inability for capitalism to distribute resources effectively. With our current wealth inequality it is easy to see how this fits the class debate. The growing gap between the rich and poor since the 1970s as caused by a right wing neo-liberal market strategy has led to many being without access to the riches promised by capitalism. Without the ability to get anything back from the system over an extended period of time innovation is required to gain material wealth. Just like Robert Mertons (1938) strain theory the lower classes ability to innovate is prominently in the realms of street level criminality due to lack of social positioning, education and local resources; some of which will therefore be violent rather than business innovation or white collar crime of the middle and upper classes (Jones, 2009). The inability for sublimation to take place due to lack of alternative outlets leads to the destruction of the pacification process. Those of the lower classes arguably have fewer modes of sublimation, either due to social disorganisation, marginalisation or lack of wealth to pay for such activities; they are left to find other pastimes that some may consider antisocial behaviour. The strain of material wants outweighs the formal rules to acquire them due to the increasing pressure of consumerism; creating wants that not only cannot be reached by following the rules but even if the rules were followed. Blame is placed not only on the failings of capitalism but of the unobtainable expectations of our hyper consumerist market and the master status created by material wealth; we are more now than ever what we ‘eat’.
Elias’s (2000, 1939) Civilisation process and pseudo-pacification describe a very overarching and quite Marxist view of violence, convincing in terms of instrumental violence of necessity or greed and a good starting point for other theories. Still it is argued it over predicts violence within the lower classes. The vast majority do not revert to violence to gain wealth twinned with the fact violent crime has a very small re-conviction rate (Levi, 2007). Drawing into question the true impact of economic deprivation on violent behaviour, perhaps leading to the ability to adapt to non-violent methods of property crime as a safer alternative or the creation of Matza’s drift theory and modes of neutralization (Jones, 2009). It does nevertheless create a structure of social boundaries in which violence will be more dominant; an environment for the potential for violence. However the truth behind the matter requires a greater amalgamation of ideas that support and compliment this basis of economic instability derived violence. Individual responsibility should not be eliminated entirely as the political economy should be seen as just one part in in a complex web of social dimensions (Reiner, 2007).
Arguably violence created by the de-civilisation environment in sink estates and certain families can be passed on through learning processes into other aspects of an individual’s life; a cycle of generational defeatism caused by Sutherlands 1942 differential association theory and lack of informal social controls. Pseudo-pacification almost requires an attempt to gain something out of capitalism, only through failing does the individual default back to the alternative of violence and crime. Nonetheless the feeling of depravity and its solution can be taught rather then felt first hand. Differential association postulates that criminal and violent behaviour is learnt through the intensity, duration and frequency of interaction with others who use such tools to gain benefit (Jones, 2009). The more positive the interaction with violent behaviour, the more likely the individual is to use it as a recognised method of gaining their outcome. Backed up by research into generational crime statistics, peer interaction and the idea that a small number of families are responsible for a large proportion of recorded crime (Farrington et al, 1996 ; Rakt, 2009; Rowe & Farrington, 1997), negative differential association is of course located more so in the social environment created by de-civilisation.
Updated with psychological undertones into a more comprehensive general learning theory by Akers (1985, 1999) to include differential reinforcement, imitation and self-created definitions (Sellers & Akers, 2006). It relies on cognitively learnt behaviour from peers, family, teachers and other social groups, many of whom may have contradicting norms of behaviour, it is the relative balance of the positive or negative interactions with violence and crime that deduce the individual’s outcome (Sellers & Akers, 2006). This may go some way to alleviate the over predicting of violent crime of pseudo-pacification, it is not enough to feel like you’re getting nothing out of the system, rather than violence being a default human reaction to material deficit it needs to be socially learnt. In most cases the positive interaction with social controls and norms outweighs that of the negative deviant interactions (Sellers & Akers, 2006). Learning theory may also go a fair way to explain violent crime before economic deprivation is felt in younger individuals, the linking between violence and gain comes out of resonating ideologies from the generation that teaches the pedagogy that capitalism has nothing to offer them. In this way pseudo-pacification is as much a state of mind as it is a sociological factor, destined to linger long after economies and social ideologies have changed.
In conclusion, the link between violent crime and class has many different facets, more so then the author can comment on here. However de-civilisation and pseudo-pacification go some way in explaining the state of mind within the environment of the merging middle and working classes within our ever increasing stratifying society, bringing social psychology into a field dominated by social interactionist theories. The creation of pacification caused by centuries of human social development has been broken down, not only by the instability of capitalism but hyper consumerism and a mode of self-worth. It’s argued however that social learning perpetuates this process within these environments, this relies on the quite idealistic view of humankind as not reverting to its true nature given the breakdown of social and economic boundaries that constrains them, but rather that nurture within the system can affect the individual. Of course no change to nurture can accrue as long as the environment in which it is given is stagnantly negative. The solution sometimes viewed as too utopian to even be considered, defeatist or even unwanted by those in power with the ability to change them, the social divide in violent street crime seems only to have one projection given the current political, economic and social climates.
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The Role of Social Class in Relation to Violence and Violent Criminality in Western Consumer-Capitalist Society
By Adam Lea
Violent crime and the lower social classes have always had an intimate albeit often stereotypical relationship with violence shown by impoverished geographical areas containing disproportionate levels of (violent) crime (Ray, 2011). However this is only the start of a complex and deep-rooted issue which highlights fundamental problems in the core of western society. This paper will provide a brief overview of this problem, exploring the concept and manipulation of the term ‘violence’ and cover the theoretical and epidemiological works which demonstrate how the dawn of neoliberalism and consumer culture has spawned a whole new generation of interpersonal violence, most noticeably the Pseudo Pacification Thesis (Hall, 2007).
It is first important to establish what classifies violence and how its representation can protect the behaviour of certain groups and not others. Bufacchi (2005) argues it is best to consider two forms: the minimal approach; seeing violence as intentional, excessive force and the comprehensive approach which sees violence as violation. This is an important distinction as violence as violation in most circumstances, especially in a micro-sociological sense, would be too broad a definition; trivialising its meaning. However, Zizek (2008) highlights the destructive nature of ‘symbolic’ violence; power expressed by language and representation, and ‘systemic’ or ‘structural’ violence; systems which confine people to poverty and social exclusion. This is not to say that the intentions of these forms of violence are equal, but it is important to expose the ignorance of the powerful upper classes which exacerbate or ineffectively suppress the already prevalent unrest of the disadvantaged, hence for the remainder of the paper, both criteria will be used accordingly.
History of Class and Mass reduction of Violence
By looking at the historical context of violence the integral connection to class becomes clear; from the 13th century to the 20th century, a mass reduction in interpersonal violence occurred over Europe and later in North America (Eisner, 2003). Elias’ civilising process (1939) claims that citizens needed to adopt the etiquette of the upper-classes; moral and social values and acceptable behaviours in order to benefit from being a depended part of the new economy; brought on through the democratisation of control, introduction of formal criminal justice etc. (Edward 1), then later growth in market economies, urbanisation and industrialisation.
These social codes are internalised as what Freud (1923) refers to with the super-ego and in turn the violence which defined earlier civilisation was suppressed. The civilising process could be called over simplistic in its one-way progression approach and somewhat ignores rises of violence levels throughout history. However further analysis of historical trends shows evidence that fluctuations in levels of violence are regulated by state formation and advancements in world economics (Mares, 2009). The Pseudo-pacification process (Hall, 2007) is a similar, modernised model which builds on Elias going further to incorporate these economic changes and, like Elias, argues that that violent urges were never truly extinguished, only pushed beneath the surface through ways of sublimation, for instance redirected through socially-accepted forms of competition known as ‘ritualisation’, hence the term ‘pseudo’-pacification. Although, like many psychological concepts, sublimation may be hard to support in an empirical way, psychoanalysis and social critic; Erich Fromm supports this using the example of decreased national violence which reflected the increment of partaking in war efforts involving the British Empire; what Fromm calls group narcissism. Research from Ian Taylor (1999) also supports this general theory, presenting a correlation between the rise of violent crime and the shift into the current free-market society.
Beginning a Top-Down Approach to Class and Violence
Elias and many others subscribe to the psychosocial paradigm of explaining violence, investigating internal and external causes of violent criminality. This been advocated by Hall and Wilson (2014), appealing for a multi-level theory of homicide and serial murder, combining micro-analysis of subjective motives, mid-range analysis of space and shifts in political economy and overarching cultural formations to reach an all-encompassing perspective. This will somewhat structure the present paper.
The steady rise in interpersonal violence over the latter half of the 20th century (Eisner, 2003; Home Office, 2014) brings into question what disrupted Elias’ idea of natural and blind process of civilisation. This is an advantage that the breakdown of the Pseudo-pacification process has over Elias, using current specific major societal changes to identify the forces behind the up rise of violent criminality in the lower-classes, including structural violence of the powerful upper-classes and the institutions run by them. This last item is the first in a top-down approach to explaining violence and provides the underlying basis for most of the violence seen in the UK and other western nations.
Essentially the problem stems from changes in the labour market combined with the neoliberal consumer ideology. Until the 1970s industrial capitalism provided solid jobs, identities and comfortable life trajectories for working class families (Hall, Winlow & Ancrum, 2008). In addition to this, post-WWII efforts maximised employment and a working class political representation. However neoliberal consumer-capitalism shifted industrial work overseas for higher profits and stable labour work for the working class was replaced by low paid service jobs offered by the array of new business. Hall, Winlow and Ancrum (2008) give the example of how the emergence of work killings, perhaps most noticeably the astounding list of spree killings in United States Postal Service offices, reflects the diminishment of interpersonal employee bonds. In a 1958 interview with psychoanalyst and social critic Erich Fromm, he claims consumer capitalism means one having no connection to one’s work, leading to a feeling of entrapment and an unconscious hatred towards it. This disconnect carries over to one’s relationship to larger global issues, separating oneself from society, indulging in individualistic concerns.
Almost fifty years later Fromm’s observation is still the case, supported by research conducted by Hall and Winlow (2005). Young working individuals displayed highly instrumental views towards all aspects of their monotonous ‘McJobs’, and even their friendships, which mostly served as a means of engaging with the night-time economy i.e. ‘going out’. A young unemployed criminal group was also interviewed. Both groups evoked a strong sense of insecurity and towards work, with minimal work ethic, techniques of personal presentation, family support and other characteristics associated with lower class being the determinate factors whether the jump to criminality was made. This directly links to other ethnographic research by Hall and Winlow (2005) on pseudo-pacification and the night-time economy where heavy alcohol consumption served as a catalyst to unleash violent outbursts in an already hedonistic, consumer driven and under policed arena with a dark figure of crime even more prevalent than in the daytime and constitutes a large part of the recent rise in violent crime.
The researched discussed can be coherently be explained by, and thus gives credibility to, the breakdown of the pseudo-pacification process. Consumerism, especially engagement with the night-time economy has replaced the traditional identity associated with work and serves as a release from the trivial work that young people now face. It also suggests how this insecurity along with the usual socioeconomic limitations relating to lower class can easily steer young people to illegitimate work; a significant proportion of where violence manifests itself. Intoxication does not inherently cause violence but within the night-time economy, stands as one manifestations of the general cultural current; the hedonistic consumer ideology and lack of interdependence in the capitalist economy means reluctance to maintain social codes which in turn produces violent behaviour.
Marginalisation – Structural Violence of the Powerful Upper-Classes
The micro-analysis of individual motives will continue in the next section but it is first important to emphasise the power of marginalisation via structural violence of the upper classes. Although much of the research mentioned here does not necessarily explore the violence of those marginalised, the paper is aiming to build a wider picture of stigmatisation and marginalisation of the lower classes, which in turn separates them from wider society (especially the most powerful elites) creating a platform for violence as a reaction to the social isolation suffered.
As discussed above, violence can manifest in different forms, Collins (2009) claims that for successful violence, a number of pathways around confrontational tension/fear (ct/f) must be used including attacking the weak and confrontation-avoiding by deception. Successful violent persons, law-abiding or law-breaking, must develop such techniques and by looking at some mechanisms of social exclusion, accusing those with powerful upper classes as ‘violent’ does not seem so radical. For instance political scientist Charles Murray has contributed to the US and UKs conceptualisation of the ‘underclass’ (Murray, 1994) making the distinction between those simply in poverty and a separate ‘type of poverty…defined by their behaviour’, constructing a derogatory image of these people which later went on to be conceptualised in mainstream media as the ‘chav’ label (Hayward & Yar, 2006). It seems that Murray lacks the understanding of the very real underlying issues and shares the general dangerous political view towards perhaps the most powerless groups in society.
The power of visibility has been established elsewhere (Foucault, 1975; Brighenti, 2007) and the crude, uncivilised and often barbaric behaviour is clearly very visible and this visibility maybe why these groups receive such demonization in a world of consumerism where appearance plays such a pivotal role. But what may seem savage and senseless, can still be understood through critique of extreme capitalist culture (Hall, Winlow & Ancrum, 2008). Further evidence of structural violence, perpetuating the problem further, can be found in the media and policy making. For instance Ringrose and Walkerdine (2008), through analysis of mainly British makeover television programmes, exemplify how the female working class are presented as symbols for abject, in desperate need of fixing to fit the specific consumer schema of what constitutes attractive and acceptable. This further supports the larger forces reinforcing the consumer mind-set.
A more direct example of marginalisation is the introduction of the Respect Agenda, launched in 2006 it aimed to tackle behaviour interfering with public order of the lower classes by administering civil orders such as Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). Skeggs and Loveday (2012) interviewed a mixed group of 38 participants, all from working class backgrounds who all showed negativity towards the campaign. This is especially important as all of them, whether educated or ex-offenders, felt it was unjust that disadvantaged groups were being targeted for mostly petty behaviour when that is how they were brought in order to develop their own sense of value in a society that restricted them from prospering in the world of work, an opportunity promised but rarely seen by the neoliberal state. (Hall & Winlow, 2005).
Micro-Analysis – Exploring Motivations of the Offender
Having explored the overarching societal issues in relation to social class, it is time to investigate how these issues manifest in the minds of those committing violent acts. A possible criticism of the pseudo-pacification process could be that it removes any room for personal accountability for acts of violent criminality. For instance Hayward (2004) brings up the ‘rush’ of criminality, which would account for non-acquisitive violent crime either by those who suffer no social exclusion or violent crime committed with no material means. Ray (2011) on ‘hyper-ghettoisation’ can explain this in terms of individuals developing their own social norms and moral codes to align with the informal economy created out of the inability to successfully engage with the formal economy.
Although the aim of this paper is to cover the broad and deeply rooted role which social class plays into violent criminality, case studies, such as the research of Hall and Winlow (2005) discussed previously, are essential in theory development as they are the only real way to test the validity of general abstract theories (Gadd & Jefferson, 2007). Treadwell and Garland’s (2011) study on members of the infamous English Defence League (EDL) fits in with the concepts raised so far. Participants were white working class; ex members of football hooliganism groups. The violence was not pacified, ritualised in other forms because the benefit from pacification was not enough to adopt social codes to control their resentment towards Muslim groups who they perceived to take over neighbourhood. The Marxist concept of false consciousness could also fit into pseudo-pacification and this irrational hatred towards Muslims, as constant streaming of immigration problems (Mail Online, 2014) reinforces negative attitudes towards certain groups rather than protesting against the powerful upper-classes who have been established in this paper to be the entity maintaining the status quo.
Ethnographic fieldwork from Treadwell and Garland (2011) tells a similar tale who claim that disadvantaged and marginalised Puerto Rican immigrants in New York began to normalise violent behaviour towards women and children who they could no longer control through traditional familial roles or support economically, thus the only way to attain masculinity-driven control was through force. Although this research is more focused towards a masculinity approach, clearly these issues are directly related to their position in social class system and can be explained in terms of what has been covered thus far.
The breakdown of the pseudo-pacification process and other theorisation incorporating micro and macro factors work together to create a coherent and heavily supported body of knowledge which underlines the foundational problems which consumer-capitalist society brings; forced consumerist ideology on the public and marginalisation of powerless groups which make for a poisonous combination; largely determining the level of violent criminality seen over the western world today.
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What are the social, cultural, and individual factors responsible for ‘homour killings’ in some societies?
By Christianna Aposkiti
In 2001, The United Nations Population Fund estimated that almost 5,000 women and girls are killed every year worldwide in the name of honour. A more recent estimation does not exist, as victims are often “buried in unmarked graves” (Kulczycki & Windle, 2011), missing, records are destroyed, perpetrators go unpunished and often honour killings are classified as suicides or accidents (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013, Hasan,2010). But what exactly are “honour killings”?
Human Rights Watch defines honour killings as:
A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of sexual assault, seeking a divorce – even from an abusive husband- or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonours” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life (Humans Rights Watch, 2001).
Nowadays honour killings appear more in countries of the Middle East, Central Asia, some African countries, Mediterranean countries and the Balkans. Reports of honour killings have been documented all over the world by minorities from the aforementioned origins (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013;Kulczycki & Windle, 2011;Kogacioglu, 2004).
At this point, it is important to distinguish honour killings from crimes of passion, even if they might be similarly motivated substantial differences occur. Honour killings usually involve the collective decision of the whole family even mothers, aunts and sisters (Smartt, 2006:5). Crimes of passion do not involve any “thought” or plan whatsoever (Muhammad,2010:24; Terman,2010:10).
Although there are some general causes that lead to honour killings, it is difficult to assume that these causes are similar on every country, culture and society. Therefore, it is problematic to take actions internationally. It seems that a vicious cycle exists and various factors lead to the existence of these killings. Many reasons each from a different angle reinforce their existence, each cause stems from another cause and so on.
According to social learning theory violent behaviour, beliefs and attitudes that occur mainly in childhood and adolescence are transmitted from one generation to the next (Haj-Yahia & Uysal, 2010; Haj-Yahia & De Zoysa, 2007). Thus, the cycle of violence continues from one generation to another, and when violence is not condemned by the society this behaviour is perceived as acceptable and will continue to occur.
Honour crimes are usually linked with the killing of women, but it is not unusual for these killings to be applied to men. For instance Karo-Kari killings in Pakistan, allow the killing of both men and women who are suspected of forbidden relationships (Sen, 2005:48). Also, homosexuals can be victims of honour killings (Cohan, 2010).
‘What is culture? The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines culture as
“The distinctive traits, including the total spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional traits that characterize a society or social group, and that include, in addition to arts and literature, their traditions and beliefs.” (Cohan, 2010:245).
For instance, Egyptian films present honour killings as something of high value and as a well-respected tradition. Therefore, in almost every aspect of ‘culture’ in some societies, honour killings are ‘honourable’, most of the supporters of this practice consider activists as “deviants from the religious principles and from good traditions and that they are trying to adopt a Western agenda that does not respect family honour” (Khafagy,2005:19).
Society plays a significant role in these acts. In “cultures where codes of honour operate, there is an overwhelming drive and motivation to collective morality, values and behaviours that conform prevailing codes”; as a result, individuals act according to those social norms. Even if the law might not exonerate one from killing the social advantage of recognition, acceptance and respect prevails above anything else (Sen, 2005:51). In highly honour-based societies, those who do not follow the norms are criticized, excluded by the community and condemned and those who follow them are respected and admired (Dogan, 2011). If a man fails to intervene because of the shame his sister/daughter/wife has caused him, he is no longer consider a ‘man’ and he “suffers a loss of his gender” (Odeh, 2010:919).
The families in societies in which honour killings occur are mainly “patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal and some regions are well known for inegalitarian gender relations which are highly related with gender violence”, for instance, India (Jejeebhoy, 1998). Also, honour killings are prevalent in societies characterized by “collectivism of extended family clans, a tradition of pastoral economy and a state that has not yet acquired a monopoly in the legitimate use of force” (Oberwittle & Kasselt, 2012 & Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013). Pakistan, for example, is a deeply patriarchal country with high levels of violence, low literacy levels and high corruption (Solberg, 2009). Similarly, Japan and other Asian countries are influenced by the principles of Confucianism in which a strong emphasis on hierarchical family structure and “rigid gender roles exist in which men are expected to be dominant and women submissive” (Yamawaki & Tschanz, 2005:381).
In some societies, honour is defined as an “entire social behavioural code” which is imposed on women to enforce their inferiority and male authority (Smartt, 2006:4). On the one hand women are regarded as mothers and motherhood is crucial, not only for them but for the men too, in order to achieve full status; on the other hand women are considered as dangerous since it is believed that they can bring disgrace to the family and they must be controlled (Akpinar, 2003:430). In these societies, a man is considered the head of the family, and the one to defend the honour “against any behaviour that would be considered shameful or humiliating” (Elakkary, Franke, Shokri, Hartwig, Tsokos, Puschel, 2014:76). Historically, women were considered as the property of her male relatives (Madek, 2005). For instance, in the English Common Law women were conceived as “chattels”, and adultery was defined “as a crime against property” (Ali, 2001:15). Honour involves the woman’s role “as indicated by the cultural norms and traditions” of each country (Elakkary et al., 2014:76). According to Hussain (2006), women represent the vessel of a men’s honour; thus all her actions reflect the men’s honour (Hussain, 20006:227). Furthermore, according to Akpinar (2003), women’s increased autonomy “threatens” the dominance of men and, as a result, men resort to violence (Akpinar, 2003:427). According to Wilkinson (2005) men, who feel subordinated by women, will try to regain their authority by the “excessive subordination of those below them” (Kirti, Kumar, Yadav, 2011:346). For instance the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, which is pre-Islamic (Feldner,2000:47) is considered a practice that protects the family’s honour; the woman’s hymen is viewed as a symbol of the family’s honour (Gill, 2011:246).
Coomaraswamy and Kois (1999), assert that “structures, that perpetuate violence against women, are socially constructed and that such violence is a product of a historical process and is not essential or time bound in its manifestations” (Welchman & Hossain, 2005:2). As reported by anthropologists, “the killing of women to restore male honour” and to preserve patriarchal structures appeared a long time ago in the origins of many tribes (China, Greece, India, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine etc.) (Ali, 2001:15).
According to Delaney, honour is linked with sexuality which again is linked with procreation. Different cultures have different explanations of procreation; according to Delaney (1991:34-35), the concept of monotheism which is prevalent in Judaism, Christianity and Islam shows how the relations between men and women can be more easily understood.
Despite the close connection between mother and child, maternity has been associated with giving birth and nurture while contrary to the evidence of the sensed, paternity has meant the creative, life-giving role. Paternity is over-determined, and in proportion, so too are the social measures constructed to ensure the legitimacy of paternity. (Delaney, 1987:40).
Furthermore, Dogan (2011) mentions that still many people across the world and from all religions believe that women are inferior to men, a “second sex birth, as the woman was created from the man’s rib (Adam and Eve) and that a woman has weaknesses and makes men prone to commit a sin (similarly to ‘Eve made Adam eat the forbidden apple’) (Dogan, 2011:429).
According to Madek (2005), honour killing has ancient origins as “centuries ago in desert tribes, custom regarded woman and their chastity was a representative of family honour” (p.54). This belief led men to consider that they ought to protect the honour of their family by “killing any female relative involved in inappropriate sexual relationship” (Madek, 2005:55). Nowadays other reasons vary in each culture but those, that are most commonly distinguishable, are “marital infidelity, flirting, premarital sex, divorce, being raped” (Madek, 2005:55), inheritance issues (Welchman & Sara, 2005:13), “pregnancy out of wedlock and contact with a man who is not a relative” (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013:405). Honour killings include attacks such as stoning to death, murder, acid attacks, rape, strangling and disfigurement of organs (Nesheiwat, 2005; Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013).
In many Middle East countries, the Napoleon Law forms the foundation of their penal laws (Elakkary et al., 2014:79).Terman (2010) states that many laws, that excuse honour killings, do not derive from Islamic law, but from the “Napoleonic code and the remnants of colonialism” (Terman, 2010:10). For instance, Article 324 of the Napoleonic Code states that “murder committed by a husband on his wife is excusable if the wife has committed adultery (France 1810)” (Terman, 2010:10). Although this claim sheds some light and understanding on why honour killings exist in some Middle East countries, it still does not offer any excuse for why these practices exist in Mediterranean and South American countries. Yet, in ancient Rome, honour crimes were also frequent and “Roman law penalized men who didn’t kill their adulterous sisters or wives” (Elakkary et al., 2014:78). In medieval Europe, honour crimes occurred where Jewish law “mandated death by stoning for an adulterous wife and her partner” (Muhammad, 2010:16). Likewise, until 1960’s in some states of the United States, “penal codes justified a husband killing his wife’s lover” (Elakkary et al., 2014:78). Thus, it is clear that honour killings are a part not only of Islamic culture but also of Western culture.
Marx and Engels asserted that “men’s patriarchal attempt to control women’s sexuality and reproduction followed the advent of private property”. Engels noted that gender relations were created in primitive hunting, where men due to the physical strength, developed through hunting, were more advantaged than women. Subsequently woman, “was degraded and reduced to servitude, she was a slave of men’s lust and was treated as an instrument for production of children, moreover marriage for women is like prostitution” (Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001:976-977). Additionally, social feminists assert that
Men, who have very little power or say in the workplace or are cast outside of the economic system, may have a much higher propensity for conjugal types of violence, not only do these men are more likely to see violence as a legitimate force of action but they also believe that men are superior to women (Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001:979).
By the same token, social feminists note that men who are or feel privileged may not be “as prone to engaging in blatant forms of sexism”, as they feel secure with their own position within the society (Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001:980). Honour killings according to several authors take place more often in rural and socially disadvantaged areas where early marriages occur and low levels of education (Kogiacioglu, 2004; Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001).
Chesler (2010) asserts that the motivation for honour killings is different and based on codes of morality and behaviour that typify some cultures which are frequently reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates. Some researchers claim that honour killings are especially found in specific cultures and regions where Islam is often presented as supportive of these forms of femicide (Reimers, 2007; Feldner, 2000; Kogacioglu, 2004; Kurikiala, 2003). “Other researchers (Vandello & Cohen, 2003) include also Mediterranean societies such as Greece, Italy and Spain as well as Latin and South American cultures” (Reimers, 2007:239-240). For instance, in Peru, the laws of the Incas allowed husbands to starve their wives to death if they engaged into an adulterous act. Similarly, Aztec laws allowed stoning or strangulation for women who committed adultery (Muhammad, 2010).
“Nothing in the Quran promotes honour killings” (Madek, 2005:55). Many Islamic leaders have condemned honour kills as they have “no religious basis” (Elakkary et al., 2014:78). Moreover, in Pakistan, Christian and Hindu minorities are also victims of “honour killings”, something that suggests that this practice is more cultural than religious (Solberg, 2009). Also, honour killings are actually “unheard in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, similarly in Senegal and Nigeria” (Terman, 2010:16; Muhammad, 2010:21).
Muhammad (2010), asserted that because of worldwide migration and since women have obtained more rights and gained important roles in some societies, these reasons relate to the fact that those men (with traditional and different cultural backgrounds), consider that “their women may become “tainted” by the surrounding dominant culture” (Muhammad, 2010:22). As a result, men become extremely strict about religion, and they turn out to be extremely aggressive. In addition, “perpetual anxiety and hyper vigilance becomes predominant in the psyche of these men”, therefore they develop a ‘narcissistic enjoyment’ when they subdue women under their dominance (Muhammad, 2010:22).
According to Muhammad (2010), another factor, that should be considered, is that of evolutionary theory. Paternal certainty has always been of great importance to males willing to make investments in offspring thought to be their own. Females are and always were sure whose the child they are carrying, but males sometimes resort to aggression to overcome threats to safeguard their paternal certainty (Muhammad, 2010:22) This claim does not explain why honour killings occur in some cultures while in some others not.
One of the causes that leads to the continuation of honour killings is the fact that in various countries the legal state connives in the perpetration of this act and the perpetuator is often exonerated for his actions (Sen, 2005; Devers & Bacon, 2010). For instance, according to Solberg (2005), in Pakistan “a man who kills for honour is likely to be given a shorter sentence than someone who kills for different reasons” (Solberg, 2009:1934). In Israel, a murderer of a woman “who engages in unlawful sexual relations may be released after 10-12 years in prison (Hadidi, Kulwicki, Jahshan, 2000:357). Furthermore, police are often “reluctant to pursue cases” (Jewkes, Levin, Penn-Kekana, 2002:1605); perpetrators are seldom brought to justice (Muhammad,2010).
Moreover, girls are raised with considering the marriage as their life’s mission. Therefore, women “accept and tolerate injustices and sacrifice their individual rights for the sake of preserving the marriage” (Khafagy, 2005:18).
According to Bandura (2002:103), often people before they engage in a harmful act have justified the morality of their actions, so they “preserve their view of themselves as moral agents while inflicting harm on others, moral justifications sanctify the violent means”.
Regarding the victim, Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, Pastoreli,(1996), note that the “dehumanisation of the victim divests people of human qualities or attributes bestial qualities to them, so victims are not viewed as persons with feelings, hopes and concerns, but as subhuman objects, people view themselves as faultless victims driven to injurious conduct by forcible provocation” (Bandura, et al., 1996:366).
Some mental syndromes occur in certain non-Western populations which are known as “culture-bound syndromes”. They are defined as “aberrant forms of behaviour often interpreted as a mental disorder by Western-trained observers, but nonetheless seemingly restricted to given cultural situations” (Cohan,2010:227). Consequently, cultural factors are very important. Kulczycki and Windle (2010) assert that the reasons honour killings occur in patriarchal and patrilineal societies is because they are “a mechanism for maintaining control over women, their reproductive power and designated familial power structures” (p.1455). Women in those societies were/are not allowed to have any opinion on any matter. Looking closely in every society which supported/s honour killings, one common factor is that women do not choose their husband. Usually, their parents tend to choose and the woman must obey and stay with the ‘chosen’ man for a lifetime. This practice is usual in Middle East societies but was also a common practice in Greece until the 1980s’. To find the causes and a possible solution for ending these inhuman practices, what happens(ed) in each country where these practices occurred and why they stopped should be addressed. Yet, in Greece, for instance, when women did not obey and did opt for a divorce things started changing. When “public opinion” changes its stance things start altering; further research needs to be done. In societies where honour killings still exist, public opinion generally supports them, or opponents are afraid to raise their voice.
The reasons for honour killings are various, and in each country and culture, are different. What is considered bad for one might not be for another: “Cultural relativism holds that moral principles are relative, so there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’” (Cohan, 2010:225). Consequently, according to Cohan, supporters of these practices will “seek to show that moral order is thought to be disrupted by alleged or actual sexual impropriety” (Cohan, 2010:225). Even so, this does not mean that these killings should continue to exist, just because according to those societies it is “normal”. There is nothing normal in those practices, and nothing that can be understandable and justifiable.
In conclusion, many reasons and many factors lead to the existence of honour killings. They do not occur only in Muslim societies. Islam and the Quran should not “be held responsible” for these practices, even if the perpetrators use Islam as the reason for their actions. Culture, society and individual factors arise and it seems as if honour is in the middle and “gets shot” by different angles from many different elements.
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Critically Evaluate the Case for Abolishing Prisons
By Katie Gardiner
Prisons are used as a form of punishment for a wrong-doing and being given a prison sentence is often thought to be one of the harshest punishments an offender can receive (Scott and Flynn, 2014). Therefore, prison sentences are to be used as a last resort and for those who cannot serve their sentence in the community because they are dangerous and their offence is serious (Prison Reform Trust, 2014). This leads to the opinion that prisons are needed (Wright, 2008). However, there is the view prisons need abolishing; this is because of the pain inflicted on prisoners, the lack of rehabilitation, and the fact it largely ignores victims (Davis, 2003; Mathiesen, 2006; Moore and Scott, 2014; Van Swaaningen, 2013). This essay will explore the arguments for and against prison abolition to determine if the system is fundamentally flawed.
Purpose of Prisons
Before deciding whether the prison system is a success or a failure, it must first be identified what the purposes of a prison sentence are. Drake (2012) claims the first is to protect the public by removing dangerous offenders from the community. This suggests prisons are useful in maintaining security and safety; although, Mathiesen (2006) argued prison fails to provide a safer society. In addition, Drake (2012) said prisons are used to punish offenders for their crime and to provide justice to their victim(s). Punishment has been argued to be about subjecting offenders to pain as this is the consequence of their crime (Ruggiero, 2010). It will be discussed later whether imprisonment is an appropriate punishment or whether the pain inflicted is unjustified. Victims will also be considered to determine whether a prison sentence is beneficial to them; this will help decide whether abolishing prisons is a good idea.
In addition, The Ministry of Justice (2014) claims the prison service aims to help prisoners while they are serving their sentence and once released to ensure they lead successful lives and do not go on to re-offend. All these claims show that the purposes of a prison sentence are incapacitation, rehabilitation, deterrence, retribution and general prevention (Drake, 2012; Jewkes, 2007; Mathiesen, 2006). The literature will be explored to identify whether prisons are fulfilling these purposes; this will help determine whether prisons should be abolished.
Fails to Rehabilitate
There have been a large number of critiques concerning the prison system discussed throughout literature. One is that prison is not successful in aiding prisoners to reform, which causes them to re-offend (Jones, 2014; Mathiesen, 2006; Roberts and Hough, 2005). This was supported by Joyce (2013), who claimed the prison service does not have programmes to address all types of offending. This shows prisoners are not being reformed and are not receiving the help they need, which seems an appropriate reason to abolish prisons. More specifically, Johnston and Godfrey (2013) discussed how short sentences should be avoided because they are unable to reform offenders due to the lack of time and opportunity. In terms of statistics, The Ministry of Justice (2015) revealed from April 2012 to March 2013, the re-offending rate for those who served sentences of more than twelve months was 33.9%, in comparison to 57.9% for those who served shorter sentences of less than twelve months. This means prison is failing to deter criminals, especially those who served short sentences, which provides a good argument to abolish prisons.
This leads onto the view prisons should be replaced with appropriate alternatives (Mathiesen, 2006). For example, Killias, Aebi and Ribeaud (2000) claimed short prison sentences should be replaced with community-based responses. This has the benefit of the offender being able to seek employment and/or gain educational qualifications which they might not be able to in prison (Aitken, 2009; Jones, 2014). Alternatives could also reduce re-offending, especially for those electronically tagged, as this has been argued to be a reliable way of transforming the behaviour of lawbreakers while they are in the community (G4S, 2014). It was also argued by The Howard League for Penal Reform (2011) that community sentences would be useful at tackling and reducing crime. These seem to be appropriate ways of dealing with crime problems and abolitionists may be correct in thinking this would be more suitable.
However, the idea to abolish prisons may be criticised because it cannot be sure whether the lack of rehabilitation is the reason for re-offending (Wright, 2008). In addition to this, Aitken (2009) revealed prison reforms could place an emphasis on rehabilitation in order for prisoners to receive more programmes, such as skills and educational training. This might be more appropriate than abolishing prisons because it would allow prisoners to receive the help they need. Finally, Wright (2008) argued training and rehabilitation does occur in prisons and some criminals do consider their wrongdoings, which enables them to transform their behaviour and change for the better. This is an aspect which abolitionists do not appear to take notice of, instead they are one-sided and focus on those who do re-offend. Overall, it may be argued abolishing prisons is not the best idea as prisons provide programmes which can be beneficial for some of those in prison. However, the argument to put an end to short-term sentences seems valid as they do not allow prisoners enough time to rehabilitate and therefore, they are unlikely to benefit from prison.
Used Against the Poor and Powerless
Another issue found in current literature is that prison is used against the poor and powerless (Moore and Scott, 2014). It was argued the state have control over these individuals, which means they decide what is and is not socially acceptable (Reiman and Leighton, 2012). Therefore, when choosing what to consider as a crime, they are often biased against the poor by labelling their crimes as criminal (Muncie and McLaughlin, 2001; Scott, 2013; Siegel, 2008). This demonstrates how crime is a social construct, which seems to be supported by Willem Bonger, a Marxist theorist, who argued that the system often singles out the poor and powerless, while defending the behaviours of the powerful and wealthy (Siegel, 2011).
This provides a valid reason to abolish prisons because the system fails to control powerful people who do commit harmful crimes (Moore and Scott, 2014; Wright, 2008). Instead, their acts are either not treated as crimes, or if they are, they are normally treated less harshly, such as being given short sentences or fines (Croall, 2001; Reiman and Leighton, 2012; Siegel, 2008). From these arguments, it appears there are social divisions within the system (Sim, 2013). This is based on research from America and the United Kingdom (UK), which shows how this issue seems to be widespread; although, research in America is more extensive, suggesting this may be more of a problem there.
As a result, it has been suggested by Scott (2013) that rather than continuing to punish the poor and powerless, there needs to be a greater focus on equality. However, many seem to disagree that prisons are in need of abolishing. For example, Brinkerhoff, Weitz and Ortega (2013) claimed the reason there are a disproportionate number of lower-class citizens in prison is because they are supposedly most likely to commit crime, implying that social class and criminality are related. Whereas, DeRosia (1998) and Anderson and Taylor (2008) argued higher class criminals generally carry out non-violent white collar offences, which are harder to detect and are therefore, underreported. This may be a reason why they appear less in the criminal justice system.
Finally, Ashworth (1997, cited by Croall 2001) said when deciding whether to sentence an individual, other than taking into account the harm caused, it should be considered whether prison would be a good deterrent for them. From this argument, it seems abolishing prisons may not be a positive decision because the reason higher classes are not sentenced may be because it is thought prison would not be the place to reform them. After reviewing all the evidence, it seems there is a definite issue of state power within the criminal justice system, which has been criticised because of the social inequality which takes place. It seems abolitionists have a very strong point that prisons need abolishing because the power to punish is disproportionate and therefore, there needs to be a drastic change focused on equality.
Pain is Unjustified
The pain inflicted upon prisoners is another issue which needs to be considered because Scott and Moore (2014) and Van Swaaningen (2013) argue this is unjustified. It seems many academics support this view, as it was argued prison is degrading, debasing and dehumanising, and also, that brutality, cruelty and violence can be found in prisons (Scott and Codd, 2010; Wright, 2008). In addition, the well-known pains of imprisonment are the deprivations they face; such as liberty, security, heterosexual relationships and goods and services. These were found by Sykes, where it was stated the pains of prison could be explained in physical terms or even psychological terms, such as feelings of isolation, alienation, anxiety, powerlessness and a loss of dignity (Wortley, 2002). This list of deprivations have been used in many criminology texts and so they appear to be accurate in explaining prison life. As a result, it seems from an abolitionist perspective, the punishment of prison is not appropriate because it can do great harm to individuals. Therefore, prisons might need abolishing and replacing with different measures of crime control which may be more adequate, as The Howard League for Penal Reform (2011) suggests. This implies that abolishing prisons would be for liberation; in order to allow for freedom and to escape these pains of imprisonment (Scott and Moore, 2014).
This appears to be a reasonable argument for abolishing prisons; although, there are many other aspects to take into account. To begin with, Scott and Moore (2014) made the interesting claim that in order to abolish prisons, it must be proven that the punishment is unsuitable and inappropriate. This could be difficult because it is not made clear how much punishment is justifiable. In response to this, Scott (2013) stated prisons are designed to be painful and to create suffering, such as discomfort, misery and torment, as this is rightly deserved for the crime committed. This gives the impression that the pain inflicted is justified as this type of punishment and harm is promoted, which suggests prisons may not need abolishing. The Ministry of Justice (2012), however, highlighted the fact prisoners are treated fairly, decently and legitimately when they are detained. This implies there is no need to abolish prisons as they are claimed to be a safe environment.
It seems there are two different ways of viewing the pain inflicted on prisoners. After reviewing the evidence, it seems the idea of abolishing prisons is creditable because of the terms used to describe the pain, such as degrading and brutality. However, if prisons were to be abolished, it might be argued an offender would not be punished for their crime. This is because alternatives, such as community service may not seem plausible because some individuals might enjoy it and therefore, it may not be seen as a punishment (Wright, 2008). Overall, it appears the abolition of prison should be avoided because it may be difficult to imagine a society without prisons as we are so reliant on them to detain and punish dangerous offenders (Moore and Scott, 2014). The amount of pain and punishment, however, should be measured to ensure it is appropriate and justified for the crime committed (Ruggiero, 2010; Scott and Flynn, 2014).
Justice Not Provided
It has been discussed how prison is used to punish an individual for the offence they have committed. Therefore, the next aspect needing to be considered is whether this provides justice to the victim, as Drake (2012) claims is one of the purposes of imprisonment. When reading the literature, the opinion that prison does not provide justice, repair the damage caused or meet the needs of victims became apparent (Scott and Flynn, 2014; Waller, 2011; Wehr and Aseltine, 2013). This seems to imply that victims are not taken seriously, which Moore and Scott (2014) argue is the abolitionist critique of prison. These arguments appear to be reliable as they all offer the same critique of the prison system in that it does little for the victim. Therefore, this may be a good reason to abolish prisons and come up with some appropriate alternatives (Mathiesen, 2006). Although, The Crown Prosecution Service (2015) has stated the victim’s rights, needs, requirements and demands are always taken into account, which means the idea to abolish prisons could be criticised.
Returning to the idea of abolishing prisons and introducing alternatives, it has been stated by Wright (2008) that restorative justice and reconciliation may be a better way of dealing with crime because it is an approach to justice which resolves conflicts and allows for healing and for the offender to accept responsibility and make amends, instead of causing pain to the offender which does little for the victim. This relates to the peace-making theory, which focuses on engagement in order for the offender to develop empathy for the victim and to repair the harm they have caused (Liebmann, 2007). Although, it was interestingly argued by Strang and Sherman (2003) that even though this approach can benefit the offender and the victim, if it was to be used as an alternative to prison, it could harm public safety as it may not be in their interests and security would not be provided. This indicates that abolishing prisons may not be a good idea, instead, it may be better to reform the system and allow the methods of reconciliation and restorative justice to be used more widely in prisons (Edgar and Newell, 2006). This might be more appropriate because it would help the prison function more effectively, it would allow communities to feel safe and also, the victim to have their needs met (Aitken, 2009).
Finally, well-known activist, Angela Davis believes one of the major issues is the disproportionate and unequal amount of people of colour in prison, which she claims shows the racism that takes place within the system (Davis, 2003). This was supported by The Prison Reform Trust (2012), where it was stated that when comparing the black population in prison compared to the national population, it becomes apparent that this is disproportionate in comparison to their white counterparts. These pieces of research suggest there is a reason to abolish prisons as there is an indication of racial discrimination. However, McKenzie (1998) argued this is not proof of discrimination; instead there may be alternative explanations, such as whether black people carry out a great number of criminal acts than white people.
In addition to this, there is the argument that racial discrimination takes place inside prison. For example, Davis (2005) claims American prisons are prejudice and unfair to those of colour and they recreate forms of racial discrimination, which originated from slavery. This was supported by Street (2003, p.30), who argued “American racism is as alive as ever”. This demonstrates that in America, racial discrimination seems severe. However, this view to abolish prisons can also be applied to the UK as Cheliotis and Liebling (2006) found that racism seems to be an issue in prisons, as ethnic minorities claimed that in comparison to their white counterparts, they were treated badly, unjustly and unfairly. This research was useful as it found the perceptions of prison life from 4,860 prisoners; although, it must be acknowledged these findings might not be representative to every prison. Additionally, Bhui (2005) claimed minority ethnic groups have struggles adapting to life in prison and accusations of racism tend not to be examined or explored. These arguments provide a valid reason to abolish prisons because it discusses the issues ethnic minority groups face and how the prison service are failing to implement their own policies. Therefore, it would be beneficial to abolish prisons to put an end to the racial discrimination taking place in America and the UK.
It may be argued prisons do not need abolishing as there are reforms in place which seek to address racial discrimination, disproportionality, inequality and signs of segregation in the criminal justice system (Prison Reform Trust, 2013). This is because the prison service encourages equality and tries to remove any discrimination or victimisation which takes place (Ministry of Justice, 2012). To summarise, even though it has been claimed discrimination would be dealt with, there appears to be strong arguments for prisons needing to be abolished due to racial discrimination and this appears to have a long history as the sources used date back to 1998. The evidence from the UK and USA demonstrate how ethnic minorities are treated differently and how the prison service has failed to investigate complaints, which is one of the prisons aims.
It has been acknowledged the prison service does have its benefits and there are reforms in place attempting to improve the system and make it work more effectively. Therefore, prisons may be necessary because they are relied upon to punish offenders for their wrong-doing. This aims to protect society by removing dangerous offenders from the community (Drake, 2012). Additionally, using restorative justice in prisons allows victims to have their needs met and to feel a sense of justice (Edgar and Newell, 2006). However, there have been strong cases for the abolition of prisons; this is because of racism taking place within the system, the pain being unjustified, prison not being able to rehabilitate and because prison is used against the poor and powerless (Davis, 2003; Mathiesen, 2006; Siegel, 2008; Bhui, 2005). From this, it seems there are problems within the system which need addressing and therefore, abolishing prisons and using suitable alternatives based on reintegration seems credible to tackle crime problems (Mathiesen, 2006; Van Swaaningen, 2013). Finally, it must be understood these arguments can relate to many countries as UK and USA sources were used throughout this essay.
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Victims of School Bullying: Needs, Policy, Practice and Research
By Abigail Thomas
Similarly to the majority of crimes against young people, bullying is rarely researched or examined because of the ethical implications of using vulnerable participant populations (Coyne, 2010). Bullying which takes place in school settings is particularly under discussed due to the risk of it potentially tarnishing the reputation of the institutions involved. In addition to these factors, the ambiguity around the definition of bullying behaviour can present difficulties when measuring and researching the topic. However, Smith and Brain (2000) state that bullying can be simply distinguished through featuring repetition and a power imbalance. This uncertainty also complicates the detection and addressing of suspected bullying. For example, misconduct such as the deliberate social isolation of a peer may be regarded as bullying by some but not by others. This suggests that any existing research of bullying is probably fairly unreliable and the true impact that it can have on direct and secondary victims is likely to be massively underestimated. The aim of this assignment is firstly to explain why it is particularly important to assess the issue of bullying within schools before critically analysing the methods schools have adopted to help victims.
Despite the fact that bullying is present throughout the whole of society and affects all age groups, it could be argued that it is worse for younger victims than adult victims. This is explained by Besag (1989) who states that adults are less susceptible to bullying than children because they are aware of the environments in which they feel comfortable and have the freedom to choose to spend their time in these. Therefore they are less likely to stand out and be socially isolated or excluded. Children on the other hand are given no choice about attending school on a daily basis nor about their company within the classroom. They are legally obliged to spend a large proportion of their childhood in the school environment regardless of whether they are socially comfortable there. Although the work of Besag (1989) could now be considered outdated, there has been very little change to the schooling system since then to justify rendering this argument invalid. Smith and Brain (2000) agree that bullying is more of an issue in schools, however their reasoning for this is that similarly to prison institutions, schools have an obvious hierarchy among students and division between those who are in power and those who are not. This hierarchy is difficult for teachers to supervise, particularly during break times which gives it the potential to escalate into bullying. Given these arguments, as well as the many others that prove schools are the starting point for the majority of childhood bullying cases, it is apparent that school institutions play a vital role in addressing the needs of the victims.
Although bullying has always been a problem, it was not explored in a great deal of depth until the late 20th century when Norweigan scholar Dan Olweus (1972, cited by Espelage and Swearer 2003, p.365) conducted his research. Following on from this, schools have begun to consider how they can deal with the issue of bullying in terms of the needs of the perpetrator and the victim. Pupils who are subjected to bullying may think for various reasons that are deserving of this bad treatment from their peers and they will probably feel helpless and alone. This is particularly likely in cases where there is a group of perpetrators involved. In order to prevent this, they need reassurance that they have every right to feel victimised and damaged and that they will not be left to deal with it alone, the school will take measures to deal with it. The law states that every school must have their own anti-bullying policy (Smith et al., 2008) which places responsibility upon the head teacher to “determine measures…to be taken with a view to…preventing all forms of bullying among pupils. The measures…shall be publicised…in a written document…and [be made] generally known within the school and to parents…at least once in every school year” (Smith et al., 2012, p.47). The adoption of anti-bullying policies by schools aims to deal with this need by making it clear to everyone involved in the school that bullying is not an accepted part of their community and initiatives are already in place to tackle the issue should it arise. This should prevent the victim from doubting that their experience is unacceptable and provide them with the comfort that it will be dealt with. However, a study from Crothers, Kolbert and Barker (2006) found that school students actually question the efficiency of anti-bullying policies and rules. The students in question thought that bullying prevention being taught within the classroom was the most effective method. A similar piece of research conducted by Glover et al. (2010) reinforces this stating that policies do make a difference but the most fundamentally important factor in addressing bullying issues lies with the general ethos of the school. Schools should embed their stance on good behaviour and anti-bullying into their whole culture as opposed to treating it as a separate issue. Given that these studies could now be considered outdated, it may be argued that schools are now moving their focus away from academic achievement and towards teaching pupils the morals and social skills they will require in adult life as a response to findings such as the above. Through doing this, students are naturally deterred away from bullying behaviours, victims are reassured that their peers will detect and report immoral behaviour such as bullying if they witness it and finally, the risk of bullying based on academic achievement is reduced.
In 2012, Ofsted added the category of ‘behaviour and safety’ to the criteria they use when carrying out school inspections. Ofsted (2012) found that attitudes towards bulling were far more favourable in schools where they incorporated issues like diversity, respecting others and responding to bullying into their lessons and methods of teaching. Given that children’s doubts over anti-bullying policies being separate from the curriculum have already been noted, they are likely to prefer this. The new behavior and safety focused feature of inspection not only broadens the knowledge children have regarding the affects of bullying, but it also encourages schools to openly talk about the issue with pupils within the classroom. This in turn should make the children aware that it is permissible for them to discuss bullying with teachers and peers. In terms of the victim’s needs, this will hopefully give them the confidence to speak to someone about their victimisation before it escalates (Ofsted, 2012). Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 reinforces Ofsted (2012) point by encouraging schools to operate and improve their anti-bullying strategies. This legislation states that schools must “make arrangements for ensuring that their functions relating to the conduct of the institution are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children receiving education or training at the institution” (legislation.gov.uk, 2002). Similarly to the policy introduced by Ofsted (2012), this suggests that it is important for schools to include their rules on bullying within their normal behaviour policy. Alternatively, it could be argued that embedding bullying into the curriculum, placing it under the same category as the other regulations of the school and explicitly discussing it could be ‘normalising’ it to an extent.
As previously mentioned, the majority of schools are reluctant to publicise their bullying statistics because they are concerned about the negative impact it could have on their name. However, a study from Sharp and Smith (2002) suggests that parents are becoming increasingly understanding of the reality that bullying is an issue in all schools and that making statistics public should enhance their reputability by proving that they are tackling it. Many secondary victims of bullying such as parents and teachers hesitate to involve criminal justice agencies because they fear this would be seen as an admission that they have failed their duty of care to the child (Besag, 1989). Schools usually choose to deal with issues of bullying inside their own institution instead. Direct victims of bullying need to feel that they have a strong support base and that they should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about their victimisation (Rigby, 2007). In spite of this, it could be argued that the apprehension of parents and teachers to expose the bullying issue to others actually leads to the stated need being ignored. The child involved is likely to feel as though they need to be even more secretive and self-conscious about their victimisation because their role models and superiors are shying away from it.
Following on from the points raised above in relation to victims of bullying needing a strong support base, it is important that the victim does not feel as though they are at fault. Besag (1989) argues that a school attempting to deal with bullying by simply identifying and punishing the perpetrator(s) accordingly is ineffective. Instead, it is far more efficient to take a reform approach whereby teachers to try to make the perpetrators aware that they need to adjust their behaviour towards their peers. Through understanding the way their actions are affecting their victim, they will hopefully recognise that they need to change their entire conduct towards others which is more likely to prevent repeat offences than simply taking a punitive approach. A slightly more modern study from Nunn (2010) disagrees with this stating that aiming to alter the behaviour of the perpetrator does not work as well as teaching children how to avoid being bullied. Brank (2012) explains how it is widely thought that victims of bullying are somewhat less socially competent than their peers and Nunn (2010) argues that helping children to identify their own social difficulties will give them the power to improve on these, reducing their risk of bullying as a consequence. However, it may be suggested that this method of trying to help victims of bullying could be neglecting their needs instead. It could be the case that this makes the victim feel as though they are responsible because they are being asked to amend their behaviour. This will possibly lead to them feeling even more socially ostracised and that those who they look to for support such as their teachers are blaming them.
Ultimately, it is important for children to feel safe within their school environment and for victims of bullying to feel less at risk whilst there. However, the fulfilment of this need is jeopardised by the fact that bullying is the most common form of low-level violence that occurs in schools (Whitfield and Dupper, 2005). Although it is not a necessity for schools to consider the issue of bullying within their architecture, it is something that is being increasingly thought about. Foucault’s (1982) notion of governmentality suggests that we adjust our behaviour on the basis that we are unsure of whether we are being monitored or not. This is due to the rising levels of surveillance that are embedded into the planning and construction of buildings (Foucault, 1982). This is being used in response to the needs of victims of bullying with the installation of surveillance methods such as CCTV and glass doors in most schools and the avoidance of areas that cannot be seen by a supervisor or teacher (Besag, 1989). Additionally, when studying the dynamics of the school in relation to bullying, it is suggested by Bowes et al. (2009) that the overall population of the school could be important. This study found that the likelihood of becoming a victim of bullying increased with the size of the school. Although this finding is not explained in any depth, it could be caused by some children in larger schools feeling socially overwhelmed and uncomfortable around a lot of their peers. An element of strength is added to this argument by Bollmer et al. (2005), who state that children with a lack of powerful friendships are more likely to be victimised. This is due to them not having strong enough bonds with peers to enable them to feel that they can express their worries about bullying. Based on these points, it is apparent that victims of bullying need to be placed in smaller classes to make is easier for them to interact with their peers and gain social confidence.
In conclusion, it is apparent that bullying in all its forms can have a hugely negative impact on victims. The role of the school is essential to dealing with the needs of these victims as it can be considered the foundation for the development of the majority of bullying behaviour. As previously mentioned, bullying is an under researched area and this is evident through the lack of up to date information available on the topic. However, it cannot be denied that bullying in schools remains an issue, which is why the research requires constant updating in line with the changing aims of educational institutions. Ultimately, one of the main issues presented when aiming to deal with the needs of victims of bullying is that it is not a specific crime in the UK. The criminal behaviours often involved in it such as harassment and threatening are therefore relied upon.
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Case Study on Canada
By Tara Chesworth
This case study will focus on the Canadian Criminal Justice System (CCJS). The aim of this study is to draw detailed analysis on specific aspects of the country’s justice system including its crime rates and approach to social control. How global policy transfer affects the country will also be examined in order to show how Canada interacts with international development. A historical context of Canada’s legislative and punishment systems will be covered; the study will reconnoitre the development of human rights within Canada and see if political bias has occurred that may have led to discriminative practice within their system. Furthermore, the study will investigate Canada’s approach to imprisonment and draw comparison to the UK‘s approach. Finally, a summary of the information gathered for this study will be provided and recommendations will be given in order to improve the CCJS. However, before it is possible to answer the study’s aim, it is vital to grasp an understanding of the key theory behind international relations that will be related back to Canada throughout the study.
State crime is at the core of this study and so is an important term to define. For the context of this paper, state is the word associated towards the politics and singular ruling governmental power over a country (Kukathas, 2008), in this instance the federal government of Canada. It is deducible from Kukathas’ (2008) definition of state, that state crime can be defined as governmental criminality (George, 2011). Green and Ward (2004) add that the violation of human rights also occurs in the vast majority of state crimes. Examples of state crimes can be found throughout the world, including genocides and war crimes (ibid). These state crimes can be linked by international themes.
When discussing international relations, especially with focus towards justice systems, Global Policy Transfer (GPT) is widely used. GPT is understood differently and enacted differently by each country in the world depending on their government and other influencing powers of their own system, such as the United Nations (UN). GPT is the sharing of knowledge regarding parliamentary, justice and policy systems from one country to another (Dolowitz and Marsh, 2000; Stone, 2001; Benson and Jordan, 2011). It is often used by first world countries who share information regarding how they have developed their own systems to help second or third world countries evolve in order to gain financial benefits, treaties of land, or cultivate trust with an outside nation (ibid). However, through this process countries can, if their government or parliamentary system is that way inclined, begin to take hold of global governance through the GPT process.
Global governance is the implementation of a body or organisation that oversees a small or large group of states or non-state governments in order to ensure correct practice, relationships and roles (Slaughter, Tulumello and Wood, 1998). The impact of global governance may be an aid towards peaceful harmony; as displayed during harmonization, a mechanism of global governance wherein the sole aim of the partnership between international governments is to modify policy in order to bring peace to the largest portion of society (Stone, 2001; Howlett, 2000). However global governance can also be used to create powerful dictatorships throughout singular countries or entire regions, as demonstrated by the current affairs of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Using violence, threatening behaviour and war techniques, ISIL has become dominant political figures within the Middle East, seizing their power through what GPT refers to as ‘imposition’ (Walsh, 2014; Khedery, 2014).
Imposition is the forceful implementation of specific policies and practices upon other countries and regions. Although in the example of ISIL military action was used in order to attain their imposition, in the majority of cases military intervention has not been necessary (Slaughter, Tulumello and Wood, 1998). The other method of global governance is diffusion; the process in which information and research are developed and communicated throughout the social system and therefore affects policy choices through informal intimidation (Simmons and Elkins, 2003). Diffusion is found mostly in the grouping of nations, for example the Commonwealth.
Canada is a member of the Commonwealth; this means that currently the country shares GPT ties with all other Commonwealth nations with specific GPT connections to the UK (Alam, 2014). However, since its discovery in 1534 (Miles, 2013), Canada has been shaped and helped by several notable influences (Department of Justice Canada, 2005).
Historical Context of the CCJS
In its development many outside parties and countries have played their part in influencing the current CCJS (Department of Justice Canada, 2005). In its birth, the system derived itself from the European immigrants who brought knowledge of their own legal systems to Canada in the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century (ibid; Canadian Pardon Service, 2015). Though in the beginning these influences did not hold as law and legislation, overtime the prospect of the European Justice System began to become dominant.
On September 13th 1759, the Battle of Quebec (image 1)
occurred between the French and native settlers and the British (History.com, 2009; Department of Justice Canada, 2005). The British won the battle and consequently English law became dominant throughout Canada, with the exception of Quebec which was granted permission to keep the civil law based on the Napoleon Code (Department of Justice Canada, 2005). This made Canada one of the only ‘bi-jural’ countries in the world, meaning they had two separate legal systems in place within the same country for both civil and common law (Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Canadian Pardon Service, 2015).
Common law evolved in Great Britain after the Norman Conquest. This is a legal system wherein precedent and discretion gives great power to the court judges, as oppose to having to follow a strict compilation of legal rules and statutes (University of California at Berkeley, n.d; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2013). However, it is important to note that there is still some legislation that predetermines specific sentences within the common law system (ibid). For example, if a person came before the court and was found guilty of murder, the judge could not use their precedent or discretion to sentence the murderer to a simple fine, as there are legislative minimum sentences for these serious offences which judges have to adhere to (ibid). However, in Quebec there is a practice of civil law that is contrary to this common law definition.
Civil law has been codified in Quebec, meaning that a comprehensive and updated list of legislative sentences that cover all criminal activity has been drawn up (University of California at Berkeley, n.d; Department of Justice Canada, 2005). This compilation also contains the correct procedures for dealing with each court case, as well as the sentence that should be given out to the person(s) before the court should they be found guilty (ibid). In this system, there are three types of law that work alongside each other to ensure fair procedures are given to those who enter the justice system:
- Substantive law: meaning what type of behaviour is subject to prosecution.
- Procedural law: meaning the decision to constitute the act as a criminal offence.
- Penal law: meaning the sentence given should the procedural law criminalise the act.
(University of California at Berkley, n.d; Semeraro, Cohn and Philips, n.d)
Inside these legislative pathways there are aspects of Aboriginal laws and rights that are recognised under constitution (Department of Justice Canada, 2005). This recognition gives the Aboriginal people rights to use of specific land within Canada (ibid). Aboriginal settlers have also had influence during the development of the CCJS; their techniques of sentencing and use of rehabilitation within their own communities being a positive influence on the current system and parliamentary makeup (Isaac and Knox, 2004).
Canada is a federation country, meaning it is made up of several provinces which are run by a central government (Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Forsey, 2010). Image 2 displays these provinces. The central government is based in Ottawa, the Capital of Canada, which is located in Southern Ontario (Ottawa.com, 2011).
Parliament is responsible for the making and passing of legislation, which is then enacted into the provinces the legislation applies towards (Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Forsey, 2010). The central government is run by constitution, which is a set of principles and rules that defines where the power lies within the country (ibid). This power has been split into three separate entities, the executive, legislative and judicial powers. Executive power, which is vested in Her Majesty (HM) the Queen of England (as Canada falls under the Commonwealth), is given to those in Cabinet, for example the Prime Minister and other Ministers of Canada. Legislative power is bestowed upon all those within the House of Commons, as well as the Senate and representatives of HM the Queen of England (ibid), and gives the right to create or modify laws. Finally, judicial power lies with the Department of Justice Canada and the judges within the court system who deal with cases face-to-face; this power enables the judges to be able to use their precedent and discretion during hearings and sentencing procedures (ibid).
Each province has smaller judicial systems in place to deal with local crime, which includes separate courts, Police forces and other criminal justice agencies and partnerships (Department of Justice, 2005). Provinces can also pass legislation through to the central government through this process:
- A problem or idea for new legislation is deliberated before the government.
- Upon acceptance, Ministers and senior public servants will be asked to provide detailed evidence and examinations to further analyse the problem, or idea, to ensure it is valuable enough for legislation.
- Research is then passed into the Cabinet as a draft bill. The Cabinet is composed of members of parliament chosen by the Prime Minister and Senate. After a first reading, a discussion, and later a second reading wherein a vote takes place, the drafted bill will either be accepted or denied. If it is denied, the Ministers and senior public servants will either be asked to make thorough changes to the drafted bill or it will be discarded completely.
- Once accepted, the draft is then presented to parliament as a bill. A final reading takes place and the bill is then either past and made into law if the majority of the House of Commons and the Senate agree or sent back to the Cabinet for changes.
- If passed, the Governor General of Canada then gives the bill Royal Assent which turns it into law in the name of HM the Queen of England.
- If the law is provincial legislation (meaning it will only hold as law in one province) it is given Royal Assent by the Lieutenant General in the name of HM the Queen of England.
(Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Forsey, 2010; Parliament of Canada, 2009)
Developing Social Control: Enforcement of Law within Canada
Like most countries, the CCJS has three main agencies; the Police, the Probation and the Prison Service. The enforcement of all legislation passed by the government is the responsibility of these three core services. The majority of responsibility for enforcement lies with the Police force.
Although influenced by the UK’s Police, due to the size of the country and the difference in communities it has been vital to adapt and evolve the way in which the Police are run in Canada. There are three levels of Police power within Canada; municipal, provincial and federal (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2015). The highest power, federal, is commissioned to the national Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (Image 3)
. The RCMP then contract out power to provinces, this power is the provincial power and allows each province to enforce the laws specific to their communities (ibid). Large provinces then pass on the final level of power, municipal, to small city or regional police forces (ibid). For example, Ontario (see image 2 for location) gave the city of Toronto power to run their own police force to specifically oversee the enforcement of law and safety of the public within Toronto alone (Toronto Police Service, 2015). Similarly, large scale tourist areas and companies commission private Police forces. An example of this is the Canadian National Railway, whose private Police force enacts the Railway Safety Act in place of the RCMP and government (Canadian National Railway, 2015).
The Canadian Police, as a whole entity, are positively received by the public. A study conducted by the Employment and Social Development Canada organisation (2005) showed that 61% of Canadians were satisfied with the level of safety and the enforcement of law techniques being used by their local Police Officers. Another more recent study, reinforced that the public held positive perceptions of the Police; however, it made note that this positive result should not stop the Police force making further efforts to improve their service to the public (Chow, 2012).
The importance of public perception towards the Police is discussed by academics throughout the world. Roberts and Stalans (1997) argue that the correlation between local Police and positive public perceptions leads to a higher level of trust between the two parties; therefore, more information is passed through to the Police, making them able to focus their resources more effectively on issues that are troubling the community. This in turn then leads to a decrease in crime and a further increase in public trust resulting in an unaggressive form of social control (Roberts and Stalans, 1997; Cebulla and Stephens, 2010).
Despite their popularity, it is apparent that there has been little detailed research into the effectiveness and reliability of the Police within Canada; especially compared to the wealth of statistics available on UK Police. However, statistics do show that the between 2001 and 2012, crime fell by 21% following a 9% rise in the number of Police Officers throughout the country (Gillis, 2014). It is deducible then that the system in place is working, though it is difficult to understand the statistics without thorough research and reports into the Police force. When criminal behaviour cannot be deterred by the Police Force, the Probation service deals with the outcome of court proceedings.
The Probation service in Canada is used by the court when offenders are either deemed unfit to be released from Prison without any supervision at all, or if it is ruled that a custodial sentence is not necessary, but supervision, guidance and rehabilitation are (Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 2015). One of main programmes of probation within Canada is the Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R) course which has had positive results of reducing recidivism of offenders by 14% (Tong and Farrington, 2006). R&R incorporates cognitive-behavioural theories and teaches offenders cognitive awareness skills they may not already have (Ross, Fabiano and Ross, n.d). After originating in Canada, it is a technique that has now been passed to other countries, through GPT, around the world including England and Wales (Raynor and Vanstone, 1994).
Key criminologists have had significant impact on the policy and practice within the Probation Service. Trotter (1996) evolved the idea of 1-to-1 working with offenders by creating a framework to challenge anti-social behaviour displayed within a majority of offenders in probation. This approach argued the prominence of the development of a healthy, trusting relationship between Probation Officer and offender in order to make the challenges more legitimate and effective (Trotter, 1996). It was added that this relationship would be slowly but efficiently made if the Probation Officer ensured genuine reliability, politeness, honesty, empathy and support of extra-curricular activities towards the offender (ibid). A study showed that the combination of just two of these techniques had a smaller reconviction rate compared to a control group who did not receive the combination of techniques in their treatment (Shapland et al., 2012). However, for those who the Probation cannot rehabilitate, the CCJS may take them out of temporary supervision and place them into custody for closer monitoring.
The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is a world leader within the international corrections community (Correctional Service Canada, 2015). Due to this, it is a central figure within the GPT for correctional information, sharing expertise with Mexico, South Korea and other UN and Commonwealth countries (ibid). CSC are renowned for their Restorative Justice (RJ) heavy approach to dealing with prisoners, as oppose to a more harsh, punitive method as displayed in the Criminal Justice System of the UK.
The Restorative Opportunities (RO) programme incorporates the victim within the offender’s treatment, allowing the offender to understand the harm they have caused and in turn giving the victim the knowledge and proof that the person who has caused them harm is being treated and punished (Correctional Service Canada, 2012). After the encounter between victim and offender, the offender is then asked to make amends for the damage they have caused. This is put in place in order to help the offender fully understand the impact they have caused on their victim (Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, 2011). Succeeding this stage, both the offender and the victims undergo steps to become reintegrated as contributing, active members of society (ibid). For this, the victim may undergo therapy or group support classes whereas the offender could be enrolled onto education, employment or a variety of other skills and training programmes before their custodial sentence is complete (ibid).
Whilst RJ has displayed positive results, it is noteworthy that there are significant limitations. For example, the programme cannot be successful if the offender does not admit their guilt (ibid). Other limitations include the resistance of participation from the victim and the amount of resources and trained members of staff available to the prison compared to the prisoners requiring RJ ratio (ibid). Whilst the system is heavily focused on the rehabilitation of offenders, offenders who do not fit into the right requirements, or cannot yet be placed on an RJ programme as well as those who are on the programme but are still on a custodial sentence, are still effectively managed through punitive methods. The methods used are similar to that of prisons within the UK where offenders are kept to strict codes and discipline (Correction Service Canada, 2015). However, studies have shown that the move from punitive, adversarial, methods within prisons to the RJ approach has had significant positive results, both for recidivism statistics and for victim satisfaction (Latimer, Dowden and Muise, 2005; Department of Justice Canada, 2001).
From the analysis of the three core agencies, it is apparent that the current system in place which is used to maintain social control over the public is working and that the trust between the public and the CCJS is greater than what can be found in the UK. The techniques used throughout the CCJS have become examples that, through GPT, other countries are now beginning to adapt. However, it is important to understand that whilst the protection and control over the majority of society appears to be working positively, the system has to also meet the need and demands of minority groups within the country.
Criminalisation and Protection of Minorities
As a first world country, Canada is home to many cultures and minority groups who have sought asylum or have emigrated for a new life and greater career prospects (Chui, 2013; Li, 2000). Research has shown that these settlers were not and still are not well received by the entirety of Canada’s dominant population (Chui, 2013). As such, certain groups of people that do not necessarily fit into the stereotypical appearance or display behavioural characteristics of the dominant ethnicity, have been looked down on by society and are over-represented in crime rates and arrests by the CCJS (Department of Justice, 2004; White and Cunneen, 2006; Count the Cost, n.d). Only two years ago, in 2013, the Department of Justice Canada (2013) released a statement highlighting that over the past 10 years the population growth in Canadian prisons was vastly fuelled by an alarming increase in these visible minority groups. Aboriginal incarcerations rose by 46.4% and there was an increase of 75% in the Black, Asian and Hispanic ethnic minority group (Department of Justice, 2013). Due to this rise, minorities as a whole hold 18% population within the sentenced prisoner community (Officer of the Correctional Investigator, 2013).
Although the figures of minority groups within the CCJS appear unjust, Satzewich (2004) argues that there have been relatively few cases where discriminatory practice and unnecessary action has taken place. This argument is strengthened when the country’s prison statistics are compared to the UK. In the UK, Black Minority Ethnic (BME) offenders alone take up 26% of their prison statistics, which is significant when the overall BME population only holds 11% of the general population in the country (National Offender Management Service (NOMS), 2012). The NOMS (2012) report also showed that the UK had higher rates of complaints from these visible minority groups than the white population of their prisons (see Appendix A). Consequently, despite the slightly negative statistics, the Canadian attitude towards visible minorities has been shown to be much more advanced and focal on human rights, equality and diversity. Nevertheless, it is vital that Canada inputs better diversity measures within their evolving justice system now in order to avoid higher levels of minority inmate complaints and perceptions of inequality in representation within their systems.
Whilst the case study has shown many positive aspects of the CCJS and Canada’s governmental structure, it is evident that there is still room for improvement. Though the country has been influenced by many cultures and theorists since its founding, Canada has developed a unique and successful understanding on controlling crime and criminality inside and outside the country borders. The research conducted for this case study has shown that Canada appears to have developed functional social control over its population through a healthy relationship between the CCJS and public.
Whilst there are some signs of inequality within the CCJS, compared to other countries, it has not been detrimental to the country’s ranking of equality within the world and Canada remains a central player within GPT; especially with RJ within correctional facilities. It is recommended that the Canadian government conduct further research into the effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of the Police to ensure that the agency is being run in the most positive way possible in order to meet the majority of society’s needs. Furthermore, it is vital to ensure more work is implemented to reduce the over-representation of visible minorities in their prisons. With these recommendations in place, Canada will continue to further develop their role as leaders in criminal justice procedure and governmental organisation.
Table A1: Number of Complaints per 100 prisoners based on ethnicity and gender
Source: NOMS, 2012
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