Important research focuses on why thousands of young men and women join youth gangs, but much can be learned from looking at a single life in order to understand ways individuals manage to leave gang life behind them, in this instance by Christian conversion. This life story, told in an effort to decipher its structure and its sources of efficacy, is of Julio, a born-again, ex-gang member who grew up in Los Angeles, California but has since been deported back to Guatemala. His story provides a window into Christianity’s relationship to hemispheric security by exploring the growing world of Central American gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio Dieciocho (18th Street) from the perspective of gang ministry. Julio’s story joins a growing conversation about Central American gangs and the efficacy of Christian conversion.
Case Study: Black Cannabis Dealers in a White Welfare State Race, Politics, and Street Capital in Norway
An ethnographic study of a group of young black men dealing cannabis at a drug scene called The River in Oslo demonstrates that accumulation and use of street capital can be seen as responses to processes of social and economic exclusion. In Norway, as elsewhere, many immigrant youths are marginalized by ethnic discrimination, racism, lack of education and job opportunities, and immigration policy. Street capital is a means to gain respect, status, and money. The concept is inspired by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and highlights how street culture becomes embodied and emphasizes the practical rationality involved when marginalized youths become involved in crime. Street capital is upheld by and embedded in gangster stories, but the young men also see themselves as victims. There are ongoing shifts between gangster- and oppression discourses; neither represents the “true story” of these men. Ethnographic study of street dealers’ language use demonstrates the complex relationship between street culture and a benevolent Nordic welfare state.
Sara K. Thompson
Most criminological theory and research on the black homicide victimization is grounded in the American context, which raises important generalizability issues given the exceptional level of lethal violence that is used as the standard in this inquiry. This case study examines the social and spatial distribution of black homicide victimization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between 1988 and 2003. Results suggest that, as in American cities, blacks in Toronto are over-represented as homicide victims and offenders, but there are important differences in the spatial distribution and ecological correlates of this violence. These findings highlight the importance of cross-national research when investigating the generalizability of findings from U.S.-based research on racially disaggregated homicide rates.
Sebastian Roché, Mirta B. Gordon, and Marie-Aude Depuiset
Race and ethnicity are important political issues in France but not important research issues. Even liberals concerned about inequality disagree about the need to study the subject and are reluctant to use racial or ethnic data. Many politicians say they are proud that France ignores matters of race and ethnicity. Whether and to what extent ethnicity is associated with sanctioning for serious crimes by juveniles was investigated in two juvenile courts, in two jurisdictions, over more than 20 years (1984–2005). Logistic regressions were carried out for violent crimes for which juveniles were indicted (“all violent crimes”) and subsequently for two subsets: “nonlethal and nonsexual violence” (acquisitive or not) and “sexual violence” (sexual assaults and rapes). Massive and systematic discrimination based on ethnicity was not found for the overall sample or for the subsamples. The best predictors of severity were the type of crime for which the defendant was indicted and his criminal history. However, there were traces of sentencing discrimination. In one jurisdiction, especially for sexual crimes, race explained a share of sentencing severity.
Much negative public and media attention in Germany focuses on Muslim immigrants, particularly those with guest worker backgrounds. A study based on 5 years of ethnographic fieldwork with 55 second-generation male Muslim immigrants in Germany who engaged in drug dealing provides major new insights into how they try to make sense of the negative stereotypes of Muslim immigrants prevalent in German society, into distinctive forms of exclusion they face in the public education system, and into the effects on them of a restrictive and unwelcoming naturalization system. The exclusion the young men face significantly limits their opportunities for social and economic success, shapes their opinions about Germany, and provides them with rationales for explaining and legitimizing their drug dealing activities.
Colonial processes, indigenous people, and criminal justice systems interact. There are commonalities in the experiences of Indigenous peoples in the white settler societies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Understanding of the over-representation of Indigenous people in crime and victimization statistics needs to be contextualized within the broader framework of the effects of colonization. These effects include long-term social and economic marginalization, and limited recognition of indigenous law and governance. Current criminal justice processes (including risk assessment) continue to single out indigenous peoples as a “crime-prone” population. Indigenous demands for greater recognition of Aboriginal law and greater control over criminal justice decision-making must be taken seriously. Neo-liberalism and “law and order” politics are likely further to entrench the over-representation of indigenous peoples within western criminal justice systems.
A Comparison of British and American Policies for Managing Dangerous Prisoners: A Question of Legitimacy
Roy D. King
This essay traces the development of policies regarding difficult and dangerous prisoners in Britain and the United States from the 1960s to the present day. In essence policies about dangerous prisoners in the Unites States have been driven primarily by concerns about bad behaviors inside prisons control problems whereas in Britain the driving force has been fears about escapes security risks. Although control problems and security risks can and do sometimes overlap, it is argued that the two issues can be analyzed separately and have different solutions. Failure to distinguish clearly between security and control issues has bedeviled policies in both countries, sometimes seriously undermining the legitimacy of the system concerned, and led to misunderstandings on both sides of the Atlantic. The essay is organized in three chronological periods in the hope that moving the discussion between the two countries will better bring out the similarities and differences.
Ryoko Yamamoto and David Johnson
When Japan experienced a “crime crisis” at the turn of the 21st century, crimes by foreign residents became a major target of police. Since then, one main focus of policing has been rainichi (visiting) foreigners who stay in the country on temporary status. Rainichi foreigners comprise a small fraction of Japan’s Penal Code offenders despite the substantial political and law enforcement attention that their activities have drawn. Prosecution and sentencing in Japan do seem to result in some disparities by nationality, but the available data are too limited to arrive at confident conclusions about their nature or magnitude. What is clear is that crime control and immigration control have converged in contemporary Japan, partly as the result of a more general shift towards “punitiveness” in the country’s crime control field (genbatsuka). This convergence is hamstringing efforts to deal with Japan’s deepening demographic crisis.
Katharyne Mitchell and Key MacFarlane
In recent years social scientists have been interested in the growth and transformation of global cities. These metropolises, which function as key command centers in global production networks, manifest many of the social, economic, and political tensions and inequities of neoliberal globalization. Their international appeal as sites of financial freedom and free trade frequently obscures the global city underbelly: practices of labor exploitation, racial discrimination, and migrant deferral. This chapter explores some of these global tensions, showing how they have shaped the strategies and technologies behind urban crime prevention, security, and policing. In particular, the chapter shows how certain populations perceived as risky become treated as pre-criminals: individuals in need of management and control before any criminal behavior has occurred. It is demonstrated further how the production of the pre-criminal can lead to dispossession, delay, and detention as well as to increasing gentrification and violence.
This article discusses crime policy in small jurisdictions which to date have been underexamined in the criminological literature. In Section I, arguments concerning the dynamics of small-scale systems and the manner in which elite networks operating within them can act to resist larger transformative processes are discussed. In Section II, the impact of country size on penal policy is examined in more detail, with a view to assessing whether it can act as a protective factor against punitiveness. In Section III, the limits of macro-level accounts of punitiveness are explored through a number of small-country case studies.