Listed below are books received for review over the last two months. Entries include publishing information as well as a description of the book. Unless otherwise stated, the book description is taken from the publisher’s website or the book jacket. Selected titles from this list will be chosen for a full review in forthcoming issues of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books. Previous books received are available from the links below.
|Blood at the Root: Lynching as American Cultural Nucleus. by Jennie Lightweis-Goff. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2011. 217p.
In Blood at the Root, winner of the 2009 SUNY Press Dissertation/First Book Prize in African American Studies, Jennie Lightweis-Goff examines the centrality of lynching to American culture, focusing particularly on the ways in which literature, popular culture, and art have constructed the illusion of secrecy and obsolescence to conceal the memory of violence. Including critical study of writers and artists like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Richard Wright, William Faulkner, George Schuyler, and Kara Walker, Lightweis-Goff also incorporates her personal experience in the form of a year-long travelogue of visits to lynching sites. Her research and travel move outside the American South and rural locales to demonstrate the fiction of confining racism to certain areas of the country and the denial of collective responsibility for racial violence. Lightweis-Goff seeks to implicate societal attitude in the actions of the few and to reveal the legacy of violence that has been obscured by more valiant memories in the public sphere. In exploring the ways that spatial and literary texts replace lynching with proclamations of innocence and regret, Lightweis-Goff argues that racial violence is an incompletely erupted trauma of American life whose very hiddenness links the past to still-present practices of segregation and exclusion.
|Cape Town after Apartheid: Crime and Governance in the Divided City. by Tony Roshan Samara. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. 256p.
Cape Town after Apartheid focuses on urban renewal and urban security policies and practices in the city center and townships as this aspiring world-class city actively pursues a neoliberal approach to development. The city’s attempt to escape its past is, however, constrained by crippling inequalities, racial and ethnic tensions, political turmoil, and persistent insecurity. Samara shows how governance in Cape Town remains rooted in the perceived need to control dangerous populations and protect a somewhat fragile and unpopular economic system. In urban areas around the world, where the affluent minority and poor majority live in relative proximity to each other, aggressive security practices and strict governance reflect and reproduce the divided city.
A critical case for understanding a transnational view of urban governance, especially in highly unequal, majority-poor cities, this closely observed study of postapartheid Cape Town affords valuable insight into how security and governance technologies from the global North combine with local forms to create new approaches to social control in cities across the global South.
|Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars. by Sylvia Longmire. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 256p.
Having followed Mexico’s cartels for years, border security expert Sylvia Longmire takes us deep into the heart of their world to witness a dangerous underground that will do whatever it takes to deliver drugs to a willing audience of American consumers. The cartels have grown increasingly bold in recent years, building submarines to move up the coast of Central America and digging elaborate tunnels that both move drugs north and carry cash and U.S. high-powered assault weapons back to fuel the drug war. Channeling her long experience working on border issues, Longmire brings to life the very real threat of Mexican cartels operating not just along the southwest border, but deep inside every corner of the United States. She also offers real solutions to the critical problems facing Mexico and the United States, including programs to deter youth in Mexico from joining the cartels and changing drug laws on both sides of the border.
|Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea. by James Kraska. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011. 253p.
In the past decade, the incidence of maritime piracy has exploded. The first three months of 2011 were the worst ever, with 18 ships hijacked, 344 crew taken hostage, and 7 crew members murdered. The four Americans on board the sailing vessel Quest were shot at point-blank range. The economic costs are also staggering, reaching $7 to $12 billion per year, as insurance costs skyrocket, ransoms double and then quadruple, and ships are forced to hire armed security for protection. Pirates operating off the Horn of Africa disrupt shipping traffic through the strategic Suez Canal, siphoning transit fees from an unstable Egypt, while the seizure of supertankers in the Indian Ocean underscores the vulnerability of the world’s oil supply.
Governments, private industry, and international organizations have mobilized to address the threat. This is the first volume to examine their work in developing naval strategy, international law and diplomacy, and industry guidelines to suppress contemporary maritime piracy.
Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea comprises three sections, the first of which contains chapters on historical and contemporary piracy, international law and diplomacy, and coalition strategies for combating future piracy. The second and third parts provide collections of historic profiles and relevant documents.
|Deviance and Inequality in Japan: Japanese Youth and Foreign Migrants. by Robert Stuart Yoder. Bristol, UK; Portland, OR: The Policy Press, 2011. 240p.
Japanese youth and foreign migrants face stringent institutionalised controls in Japan. This book questions the efficacy of such social controls, focusing on the interrelation of inequality (powerlessness, discriminate controls and class inequality) and deviance (largely derived from power and the violation of informal and formal norms). It provides a comprehensive detailed description and explanation of inequality and deviance of Japanese youth and 17 foreign migrant groups. The book is aimed at individuals, students and academicians interested in Japan area studies.
|The Ethics of Capital Punishment: A Philosophical Investigation of Evil and its Consequences. by Matthew H. Kramer. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011. 368p.
Debate has long been waged over the morality of capital punishment, with standard arguments in its favour being marshalled against familiar arguments that oppose the practice. In The Ethics of Capital Punishment, Matthew Kramer takes a fresh look at the philosophical arguments on which the legitimacy of the death penalty stands or falls, and he develops a novel justification of that penalty for a limited range of cases.
The book pursues both a project of critical debunking of the familiar rationales for capital punishment and a project of partial vindication. The critical part presents some accessible and engaging critiques of major arguments that have been offered in support of the death penalty. These chapters, suitable for use in teaching courses on capital punishment, valuably take issue with positions at the heart of contemporary debates over the morality of such punishment.
The book then presents an original justification for executing truly terrible criminals, a justification that is free-standing rather than an aspect or offshoot of a general theory of punishment. Its purgative rationale, which has not heretofore been propounded in any current philosophical and practical debates over the death penalty, derives from a philosophical reconception of the nature of evil and the nature of defilement.
As the book contributes to philosophical discussions of those phenomena, it also contributes importantly to general normative ethics with sustained reflections on the differences between consequentialist approaches to punishment and deontological approaches. Above all, the volume contributes to the philosophy of criminal law with a fresh rationale for the use of the death penalty and with probing assessments of all the major theories of punishment that have been broached by jurists and philosophers for centuries. Although the book is a work of philosophy by a professional philosopher, it is readily accessible to readers who have not studied philosophy. It will stir both philosophers and anyone engaged with the death penalty to reconsider whether the institution of capital punishment can be an appropriate response to extreme evil.
|The Ethics of Plea Bargaining. by Richard L. Lippke. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011. 272p.
The practice of plea bargaining plays a hugely significant role in the adjudication of criminal charges and has provoked intense debate about its legitimacy. This book offers the first full-length philosophical analysis of the ethics of plea bargaining. It develops a sustained argument for restrained forms of the practice and against the free-wheeling versions that predominate in the United States.
|The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism’s Prison Connection. by Patrick T. Dunleavy. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, Inc., 2011. 160p.
On January 26, 1993, a young Palestinian man named Abdel Nasser Zaben was arrested and incarcerated in New York City for kidnapping and robbery. Just thirty days later, while he remained locked up, radical Islamic fundamentalists detonated a bomb in the World Trade Center. These two events, connected by common threads, signaled the coming of jihad to America. From the seemingly insulated environment of prison, this same young man, thought to have been merely a common criminal, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and began to convert other young minds to the cause. A dangerous terrorist recruitment “cell” had been born. How did it happen?
Through the story of Abdel Nasser Zaben’s recruitment efforts in prison,The Fertile Soil of Jihad explores in vivid detail how the American prison subculture fosters terrorism. Dunleavy shows how Zaben carefully and knowingly selected the most likely candidates for conversion to his cause. He reveals how Zaben used his apprentice role in the prison chaplain’s office as a cover for his work and how prison resources were used in the service of terrorism. This book yields invaluable insights for intelligence and corrections professionals as well as informed citizens eager to learn what progress the U.S. government is making in countering terrorism.
|The Furnace of Affliction: Prisons and Religion in Antebellum America. by Jennifer Graber. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2011. 248p.
Focusing on the intersection of Christianity and politics in the American penitentiary system, Jennifer Graber explores evangelical Protestants’ efforts to make religion central to emerging practices and philosophies of prison discipline from the 1790s through the 1850s.
Initially, state and prison officials welcomed Protestant reformers’ and ministers’ recommendations, particularly their ideas about inmate suffering and redemption. Over time, however, officials proved less receptive to the reformers’ activities, and inmates also opposed them. Ensuing debates between reformers, officials, and inmates revealed deep disagreements over religion’s place in prisons and in the wider public sphere as the separation of church and state took hold and the nation’s religious environment became more diverse and competitive. Examining the innovative New York prison system, Graber shows how Protestant reformers failed to realize their dreams of large-scale inmate conversion or of prisons that reflected their values. To keep a foothold in prisons, reformers were forced to relinquish their Protestant terminology and practices and instead to adopt secular ideas about American morals, virtues, and citizenship.
|Habeas Corpus in America: The Politics of Individual Rights. by Justin J. Wert. Lawrence, KS: University of Press Kansas, 2011. 296p.
For most Americans, habeas corpus is the cornerstone of our legal system: the principal constitutional check on arbitrary government power, allowing an arrested person to challenge the legality of his detention. In a study that could not be more timely, Justin Wert reexamines this essential individual right and shows that habeas corpus is not necessarily the check that we’ve assumed. Habeas corpus, it emerges, is as much a tool of politics as it is of law.
In this first study of habeas corpus in an American political context, Wert shifts our collective emphasis from the judicial to the political—toward the changes in the writ influenced by Congress, the president, political parties, state governments, legal academics, and even interest groups. By doing so, he reveals how political regimes have used habeas corpus both to undo the legacies of their predecessors and to establish and enforce their own vision of constitutional governance.
Tracing the history of the writ from the Founding to Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Boumediene v. Bush, Wert illuminates crucial developmental moments in its evolution. He demonstrates that during the antebellum period, Reconstruction, Gilded Age, Great Society, and the ongoing war on terrorism, habeas corpus has waxed and waned in harmony with the interests of majoritarian politics. Along the way, Wert identifies and explains the political context of fine points of law that many political scientists and historians may not be aware of—such as the exhaustion rule requiring that a federal habeas participant must first exhaust all possible claims for relief in state court, a maneuver by which the post-Reconstruction Court abandoned supervision of race relations in the South.
Especially in light of the new scrutiny of habeas corpus prompted by the Guantánamo detainees, Wert’s book is essential for broadening our understanding of how law and politics continue to intersect after 9/11. Brimming with fresh insights into constitutional development and regime theory, it shows that the Great Writ of Liberty may not be so great as we have supposed—because while it has the potential to enforce conceptions of rights that are consistent with the best ideals of American politics, it also has the potential to enforce its worst aspects as well.
|Illicit Flirtations: Labor Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo. by Rhacel Salazar Parreñas. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2011. 336p.
In 2004, the U.S. State Department declared Filipina hostesses in Japan the largest group of sex trafficked persons in the world. Since receiving this global attention, the number of hostesses entering Japan has dropped by nearly 90 percent—from more than 80,000 in 2004 to just over 8,000 today. To some, this might suggest a victory for the global anti-trafficking campaign, but Rhacel Parreñas counters that this drastic decline—which stripped thousands of migrants of their livelihoods—is in truth a setback.
Parreñas worked alongside hostesses in a working-class club in Tokyo’s red-light district, serving drinks, singing karaoke, and entertaining her customers, including members of the yakuza, the Japanese crime syndicate. While the common assumption has been that these hostess bars are hotbeds of sexual trafficking, Parreñas quickly discovered a different world of working migrant women, there by choice, and, most importantly, where none were coerced into prostitution. But this is not to say that the hostesses were not vulnerable in other ways.
Illicit Flirtations challenges our understandings of human trafficking and calls into question the U.S. policy to broadly label these women as sex trafficked. It highlights how in imposing top-down legal constraints to solve the perceived problems—including laws that push dependence on migrant brokers, guest worker policies that bind migrants to an employer, marriage laws that limit the integration of migrants, and measures that criminalize undocumented migrants—many women become more vulnerable to exploitation, not less. It is not the jobs themselves, but the regulation that makes migrants susceptible to trafficking. If we are to end the exploitation of people, we first need to understand the actual experiences of migrants, not rest on global policy statements. This book gives a long overdue look into the real world of those labeled as trafficked.
|The Many Faces of Youth Crime: Contrasting Theoretical Perspectives on Juvenile Delinquency across Countries and Cultures. by J. Junger-Tas, I. H. Marshall, D. Enzmann, M. Killias, M. Steketee, and B. Gruszczynska. New York, NY: Springer. 2012. 85p.
This book presents the first comprehensive analysis of the second International Self-Report Delinquency study (ISRD-2). An earlier volume, Juvenile Delinquency in Europe and Beyond (Springer, 2010) focused mainly on the findings with regard to delinquency, victimization and substance use in each of the individual participating ISRD-2 countries. The Many Faces of Youth Crime is based on analysis of the merged data set and has a number of unique features:
|Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition. David Garland. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010. 432p.
The U.S. death penalty is a peculiar institution, and a uniquely American one. Despite its comprehensive abolition elsewhere in the Western world, capital punishment continues in dozens of American states—a fact that is frequently discussed but rarely understood. The same puzzlement surrounds the peculiar form that American capital punishment now takes, with its uneven application, its seemingly endless delays, and the uncertainty of its ever being carried out in individual cases, none of which seem conducive to effective crime control or criminal justice. In a brilliantly provocative study, David Garland explains this tenacity and shows how death penalty practice has come to bear the distinctive hallmarks of America’s political institutions and cultural conflicts.
America’s radical federalism and local democracy, as well as its legacy of violence and racism, account for our divergence from the rest of the West. Whereas the elites of other nations were able to impose nationwide abolition from above despite public objections, American elites are unable—and unwilling—to end a punishment that has the support of local majorities and a storied place in popular culture.
In the course of hundreds of decisions, federal courts sought to rationalize and civilize an institution that too often resembled a lynching, producing layers of legal process but also delays and reversals. Yet the Supreme Court insists that the issue is to be decided by local political actors and public opinion. So the death penalty continues to respond to popular will, enhancing the power of criminal justice professionals, providing drama for the media, and bringing pleasure to a public audience who consumes its chilling tales.
Garland brings a new clarity to our understanding of this peculiar institution—and a new challenge to supporters and opponents alike.
|Policing Economic Crime in Russia: From Soviet Planned Economy to Privatization. by Gilles Favarel-Garrigues. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2011. 288p.
Gilles Favarel-Garrigues explores the management of economic crime in Russia, from the time of Leonid Brezhnev to Boris Yeltsin, recasting the history of the “criminal problem” that has tainted Russian politics since the late 1980s.
In the closing decades of the Soviet regime, shortages of goods and services precipitated a rapid increase in black market and underground practices, visible to all yet wholly illegal. Favarel-Garrigues explains why certain cases were selected for prosecution and why particular funds and manpower were deployed to combat “economic crime.” Law enforcement agencies were also charged with stemming the fallout from Mikhail Gorbachev’s liberal economic reforms. Russia’s judicial framework proved too obsolete to deal with far-reaching economic change, tempting many in law enforcement to privatize their professional know-how. Drawing on firsthand research with both criminals and policemen, Favarel-Garrigues scrupulously investigates the changing face of criminal law and its practice before and after the fall of the Soviet state.
|Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys. by Victor M. Rios. New York, NY; London, UK: New York University Press, 2011. 237p.
Victor Rios grew up in the ghetto of Oakland, California in the 1980s and 90s. A former gang member and juvenile delinquent, Rios managed to escape the bleak outcome of many of his friends and earned a PhD at Berkeley and returned to his hometown to study how inner city young Latino and African American boys develop their sense of self in the midst of crime and intense policing. Punished examines the difficult lives of these young men, who now face punitive policies in their schools, communities, and a world where they are constantly policed and stigmatized.
Rios followed a group of forty delinquent Black and Latino boys for three years. These boys found themselves in a vicious cycle, caught in a spiral of punishment and incarceration as they were harassed, profiled, watched, and disciplined at young ages, even before they had committed any crimes, eventually leading many of them to fulfill the destiny expected of them. But beyond a fatalistic account of these marginalized young men, Rios finds that the very system that criminalizes them and limits their opportunities, sparks resistance and a raised consciousness that motivates some to transform their lives and become productive citizens. Ultimately, he argues that by understanding the lives of the young men who are criminalized and pipelined through the criminal justice system, we can begin to develop empathic solutions which support these young men in their development and to eliminate the culture of punishment that has become an overbearing part of their everyday lives.
|Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma. by Michael Tonry. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011. 224p.
How can it be, in a nation that elected Barack Obama, that one third of African American males born in 2001 will spend time in a state or federal prison, and that black men are seven times likelier than white men to be in prison? Blacks are much more likely than whites to be stopped by the police, arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned, and are much less likely to have confidence in justice system officials, especially the police.
In Punishing Race, Michael Tonry demonstrates in lucid, accessible language that these patterns result not from racial differences in crime or drug use but primarily from drug and crime control policies that disproportionately affect black Americans. These policies in turn stem from a lack of white empathy for black people, and from racial stereotypes and resentments provoked partly by the Republican Southern Strategy of using coded “law and order” appeals to race to gain support from white voters. White Americans, Tonry observes, have a remarkable capacity to endure the suffering of disadvantaged black and, increasingly, Hispanic men. Crime policies are among a set of social policies enacted since the 1960s that have maintained white dominance over black people despite the end of legal discrimination. To redress these injustices, Tonry offers a number of proposals: stop racial profiling by the police, shift the emphasis of drug law enforcement to treatment and prevention, eliminate mandatory sentencing laws, and change sentencing guidelines to allow judges discretion to take account of offenders’ life circumstances. Those proposals are all attainable and would all reduce unjustifiable racial disparities and the collateral human and social harms they cause.
|Putting Fear of Crime on the Map: Investigating Perceptions of Crime Using Geographic Information Systems. by Bruce J. Doran & Melissa B. Burgess. New York, NY: Springer, 2012. p. 283.
The impact of crime on society is well-known and well-documented. But fear of crime also takes a major toll, affecting individual mobility, neighborhood cohesion, and local economies, and is an increasingly important topic in criminology and other disciplines. In recent years, Geographic Information Systems technology has brought needed spatial dimensions to research into fear of crime.
Putting Fear of Crime on the Map reviews these efforts, chronicling the evolution of both research and technology. Fear of crime is defined as a complex system of avoidance behaviors that paradoxically helps create conditions favorable to crime, and the authors summarize approaches used in understanding the problem. In later chapters, data from two landmark studies examine new ways of conceptualizing and addressing fear of crime offered by GIS technology, and the authors present innovative GIS-based methods for reducing fear of crime, as well as in monitoring the effectiveness of law enforcement and community initiatives.
|Sentencing and the Legitimacy of Trial Justice. by Ralph Henham. ???, ???: Routledge, 2011. 368p.
This book discusses the under-researched relationship between sentencing and the legitimacy of punishment. It argues that there is an increasing gap between what is perceived as legitimate punishment and the sentencing decisions of the criminal courts.
Drawing on a wide variety of empirical research evidence, the book explores how sentencing could be developed within a more socially-inclusive framework for the delivery of trial justice. In the international context, such developments are directly relevant to the future role of the International Criminal Court, especially its ability to deliver more coherent and inclusive trial outcomes that contribute to social reconstruction. Similarly, in the national context, these issues have a vital role to play in helping to re-position trial justice as a credible cornerstone of criminal justice governance where social diversity persists. In so doing the book should help policy-makers in appreciating the likely implications for criminal trials of ‘mainstreaming’ restorative forms of justice.
Sentencing and the Legitimacy of Trial Justice firmly ties the issue of legitimacy to the relevant context for delivering ‘justice’.
|Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones From the Ancient World to the Era of Human Rights. by Elizabeth D. Heineman (Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Penn Press, 2011. 352p.
Since the 1990s, sexual violence in conflict zones has received much media attention. In large part as a result of grassroots feminist organizing in the 1970s and 1980s, mass rapes in the wars in the former Yugoslavia and during the Rwandan genocide received widespread coverage, and international organizations—from courts to NGOs to the UN—have engaged in systematic efforts to hold perpetrators accountable and to ameliorate the effects of wartime sexual violence.
Yet many millennia of conflict preceded these developments, and we know little about the longer-term history of conflict-based sexual violence. Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones helps to fill in the historical gaps. It provides insight into subjects that are of deep concern to the human rights community, such as the aftermath of conflict-based sexual violence, legal strategies for prosecuting it, the economic functions of sexual violence, and the ways perceived religious or racial difference can create or aggravate settings of sexual danger.
Essays in the volume span a broad geographic, chronological, and thematic scope, touching on the ancient world, medieval Europe, the American Revolutionary War, precolonial and colonial Africa, Muslim Central Asia, the two world wars, and the Bangladeshi War of Independence. By considering a wide variety of cases, the contributors analyze the factors making sexual violence in conflict zones more or less likely and the resulting trauma more or less devastating. Topics covered range from the experiences of victims and the motivations of perpetrators, to the relationship between wartime and peacetime sexual violence, to the historical background of the contemporary feminist-inflected human rights moment. In bringing together historical and contemporary perspectives, this wide-ranging collection provides historians and human rights activists with tools for understanding long-term consequences of sexual violence as war-ravaged societies struggle to achieve postconflict stability.
|Smugglers, Brothels, and Twine: Historical Perspectives on Contraband and Vice in North American’s Borderlands. by Elaine Carey and Andrae M. Marak. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2011. 264p.
In this volume the borders of North America serve as central locations for examining the consequences of globalization as it intersects with hegemonic spaces and ideas, national territorialism, and opportunities for—or restrictions on—mobility. The authors of the essays in this collection warn against falling victim to the myth of nation-states engaging in a valiant struggle against transnational flows of crime and vice. They take a long historical perspective, from Mesoamerican counterfeits of cacao beans used as currency to cattle rustling to human trafficking; from Canada’s and Mexico’s different approaches to the illegality of liquor in the United States during Prohibition to contemporary case studies of the transnational movement of people, crime, narcotics, vice, and even ideas.
By studying the historical flows of contraband and vice across North American borders, the contributors seek to bring a greater understanding of borderlanders, the actual agents of historical change who often remain on the periphery of most historical analyses that focus on the state or on policy.
To examine the political, economic, and social shifts resulting from the transnational movement of goods, people, and ideas, these contributions employ the analytical categories of race, class, modernity, and gender that underlie this evolution. Chapters focus on the ways power relations created opportunities for engaging in “deviance,” thus questioning the constructs of economic reality versus concepts of criminal behavior. Looking through the lens of transnational flows of contraband and vice, the authors develop a new understanding of nation, immigration, modernization, globalization, consumer society, and border culture.
|Space, Place, and Violence: Violence and the Embodied Geographies of Race, Sex and Gender. by James A. Tyner. New York, NY: Routledge, 2011. 240p.
Direct, interpersonal violence is a pervasive, yet often mundane feature of our day-to-day lives. Paradoxically, violence is both ordinary and extraordinary. Violence, in other words, is often hidden in plain sight. Space, Place, and Violence seeks to uncover that which is too apparent: to critically question both violent geographies and the geographies of violence. With a focus on direct violence, this book situates violent acts within the context of broader political and structural conditions. Violence, it is argued, is both a social and spatial practice. Adopting a geographic perspective, Space, Place, and Violence provides a critical reading of how violence takes place and also produces place. Specifically, four spatial vignettes—home, school, streets, and community—are introduced, designed so that students may think critically how ‘race’, sex, gender, and class inform violent geographies and geographies of violence.
|Toward a Unified Criminology: Integrating Assumptions about Crime, People and Society. by Robert Agnew. New York, NY; London, UK: New York University Press, 2011, 272p.
Why do people commit crimes? How do we control crime? The theories that criminologists use to answer these questions are built on a number of underlying assumptions, including those about the nature of crime, free will, human nature, and society. These assumptions have a fundamental impact on criminology: they largely determine what criminologists study, the causes they examine, the control strategies they recommend, and how they test their theories and evaluate crime-control strategies.
In Toward a Unified Criminology, noted criminologist Robert Agnew provides a critical examination of these assumptions, drawing on a range of research and perspectives to argue that these assumptions are too restrictive, unduly limiting the types of “crime” that are explored, the causes that are considered, and the methods of data collection and analysis that are employed. As such, they undermine our ability to explain and control crime. Agnew then proposes an alternative set of assumptions, drawing heavily on both mainstream and critical theories of criminology, with the goal of laying the foundation for a unified criminology that is better able to explain a broader range of crimes.
|The Trials of Eroy Brown: The Murder Case That Shook the Texas Prison System. by Michael Berryhill. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2011. 244p.
In April 1981, two white Texas prison officials died at the hands of a black inmate at the Ellis prison farm near Huntsville. Warden Wallace Pack and farm manager Billy Moore were the highest-ranking Texas prison officials ever to die in the line of duty. The warden was drowned face down in a ditch. The farm manager was shot once in the head with the warden’s gun. The man who admitted to killing them, a burglar and robber named Eroy Brown, surrendered meekly, claiming self-defense.
In any other era of Texas prison history, Brown’s fate would have seemed certain: execution. But in 1980, federal judge William Wayne Justice had issued a sweeping civil rights ruling in which he found that prison officials had systematically and often brutally violated the rights of Texas inmates. In the light of that landmark prison civil rights case, Ruiz v. Estelle, Brown had a chance of being believed.
The Trials of Eroy Brown, the first book devoted to Brown’s astonishing defense, is based on trial documents, exhibits, and journalistic accounts of Brown’s three trials, which ended in his acquittal. Michael Berryhill presents Brown’s story in his own words, set against the backdrop of the chilling plantation mentality of Texas prisons. Brown’s attorneys—Craig Washington, Bill Habern, and Tim Sloan—undertook heroic strategies to defend him, even when the state refused to pay their fees. The Trials of Eroy Brown tells a landmark story of prison civil rights and the collapse of Jim Crow justice in Texas.
|When Crime Appears: The Role of Emergence. by Jean Marie McGloin, Christopher J. Sullivan, and Leslie W. Kennedy. New York, NY: Routledge, 2011, 250p.
In recent years, the idea of emergence, which suggests that observed patterns in behavior and events are not fully reductive and stem from complex lower-level interactions, has begun to take hold in the social sciences. Criminologists have started to use this framework to improve our general understanding of the etiology of crime and criminal behavior. When Crime Appears: The Role of Emergence is concerned with our ability to make sense of the complex underpinnings of the end-stage patterns and events that we see in studying crime and offers an early narrative on the concept of emergence as it pertains to criminological research. Collectively, the chapters in this volume provide a sense of why the emergence framework could be useful, outlines its core conceptual properties, provides some examples of its potential application, and presents some discussion of methodological and analytic issues related to its adoption.
|Youth Gangs and Street Children: Culture, Nurture and Masculinity in Ethiopia. by Paula Heinonen. Oxford, UK; New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2011. 186p.
The rapidly expanding population of youth gangs and street children is one of the most disturbing issues in many cities around the world. These children are perceived to be in a constant state of destitution, violence and vagrancy, and therefore must be a serious threat to society, needing heavy-handed intervention and ‘tough love’ from concerned adults to impose societal norms on them and turn them into responsible citizens. However, such norms are far from the lived reality of these children. The situation is further complicated by gender-based violence and masculinist ideologies found in the wider Ethiopian culture, which influence the proliferation of youth gangs. By focusing on gender as the defining element of these children’s lives — as they describe it in their own words — this book offers a clear analysis of how the unequal and antagonistic gender relations that are tolerated and normalized by everyday school and family structures shape their lives at home and on the street.