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.
Susyan Jou, Bill Hebenton, and Lennon Chang
Culture, whether invoked as a dependent or independent variable, has become increasingly significant with respect to the study of white-collar criminality. Indeed, it can be argued that it has moved from the periphery to the center of criminological concerns and research. This chapter considers the conceptual underpinnings of geographic cultural variation on values and organization, together with its uses and implications within particular forms of cross-national research on white-collar crime, particularly corruption (including bribery and intellectual property fraud). To illustrate the explicatory value of the cultural, the chapter examines the Chinese practice of guanxi. Culture is just one partial aspect of any adequate explanation for white-collar crime, part of the mix with other aspects of action that are more commonly understood as political or economic.
Ethnicity and racism feature at each stage of the criminal justice process in the United Kingdom. Some minority ethnic group people are more likely to be victimized, are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, and are more likely to be arrested. The cumulative effect of disproportionate treatment of black people throughout the criminal justice process is reflected in high numbers of black people in prison. Patterns of crime vary among minority ethnic groups and between them and the white majority, but not in ways that adequately explain imprisonment patterns. Research findings indicate that racism is levelled towards ethnic minority groups and explain ways in which discrimination occurs. Explanations for variations in group patterns of offending and criminal justice system involvement need to take account of differences between black and Asian groups in experiences at each stage of the criminal justice process, and in the migratory contexts within which minority ethnic groups have settled in Britain. These issues have been complicated by the effects of contemporary concerns about terrorism and counter-terrorism—a contemporary insecurity that affects minority ethnic groups to a disproportionate degree.
France has the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe and a long immigration tradition. Official data do not recognize race, ethnicity, or religion as fundamental characteristics of people. For a long time crime data ignored foreigners and non-French immigrants as distinct groups. They are significantly overrepresented among criminal suspects in custody and in prison, though this varies by offense and according to status; an important proportion have violated immigration laws and are not a threat to society. Their overrepresentation may result from lack of fixed residence and the possibility they will not turn up if summoned by a judge. Research on this issue is scant. It is unclear whether disparities represent invidious bias or result from socio-economic disadvantages or differences in records of past criminality. Xenophobia among the broad French public, after declining substantially, is on the rise again, in great part due to the recent economic crisis.
Godfried Engbersen, Arjen Leerkes, and Erik Snel
The development of research on relations among ethnicity, migration, and crime in the Netherlands reflects the ways migration flows and immigration control policies evolved after World War II. In the 1980s and 1990s, research primarily focused on four immigrant groups that are today established minorities: Surinamese, Turks, Moroccans, and Antilleans. Research later expanded to include criminality among asylum seekers, irregular migrants, and labor migrants from Central and Eastern Europe. The effects of migration management on immigrant crime are also the subject of research; focal topics include the effects of open borders as a result of the European Union enlargements (resulting in mobile banditry), of external border control (the growth of human trafficking organizations), and of internal border control (forms of subsistence crime as a consequence of barring irregular migrants from access to conventional means of acquiring income). Dutch research can be categorized into five themes: differential involvement of ethnic groups in criminality, subcultural explanations for criminality, victimization and fear of crime, social organization of human trafficking, and functioning of the criminal justice system.
James B. Jacobs and Elena Larrauri
This article examines European policies regarding criminal record–based employment discrimination, with particular emphasis on Spain. It first provides an overview of the definition of “criminal record” before discussing the confidentiality of information regarding criminal conviction. It then considers employment discrimination in Europe based on criminal record, including private employer discrimination in Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. It also highlights how the European Union’s data protection laws reinforce the confidentiality of criminal record information as well as the sex offense exception. Finally, it analyzes the influence of the European Union, Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights on ex-offenders’ employment opportunities.
Paul Mazerolle, John Rynne, and Samara McPhedran
This essay explores cross-national contexts in the use of imprisonment as a penal policy. Incarceration figures from select countries are presented with accompanying discussions of methodological and measurement challenges. Possible reasons for differences in the use of imprisonment across countries (including social, political, and economic influences) are also provided. The role of public opinion is explored, including similarities and differences in cultural attitudes regarding incarceration and capital punishment. This discussion also focuses on broader cultural differences that might have greater impact on a nation’s use of incarceration compared to specific sentencing polices or crime control strategies. From a global perspective, certain striking examples act as a helpful focal point for broader debate about macro-level factors and conceptual frameworks influencing the use of imprisonment and that may facilitate comparisons between different nations. Illustrative examples are the privatization of prisons and the rise of super maximum security (“supermax”) facilities.
A Historical Perspective on Crime Fiction in Mexico During the Middle Decades of the Twentieth Century
Detective and murder stories emerged and had their moment of greatest popularity in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s. Although this genre has been neglected in scholarship, this essay argues that it catered to a growing number of readers and authors eager to make sense of a Mexican reality seen as closely connected with the rest of the world. This article surveys this production during the middle decades of the twentieth century and argues that, despite great differences in their styles and themes, these narratives illustrate the critical engagement of Mexican readers with the state, particularly in relation to its inability to provide justice through police and judicial investigations. Better than any other cultural text or field of knowledge, this literature, along with the police news in newspapers, laid out the coordinates that readers in Mexico’s rapidly expanding urban centers had to follow in order to navigate that complex life-world.
Stephen F. Pires and William D. Moreto
The illegal wildlife trade is a growing problem driven by a number of factors (e.g. subsistence, alternative medicine, accessories, the pet trade). High demand for illicit wildlife products is threatening the existence of many of the most-endangered species. By unsustainably removing coveted species from the wild, communities that depend on such species for subsistence or eco-tourism will be adversely impacted by depleting populations. Laws and regulations have been implemented over the years, most notably CITES, to regulate the commercial trade in wildlife and prohibit trade in other species that are at-risk of overexploitation albeit with mixed success. Criminologists have recently entered the fold and provided insight to the wildlife trade through various perspectives. Researchers are beginning to better understand why and how the trade operates and what solutions might be implemented to reduce it. The article ends with implications for future research.
Italy has shifted from being an emigration to an immigration country. In spite of this, Italian laws have been shaped according to an emergency and punitive logic, as if migration were mainly a public security concern. The selection of legal entrants has been strictly linked to regular workers, ignoring the high demand for foreign workers in the underground economy. Recurrent regularizations or amnesties show the paradox of such a restrictive system. Illegal immigration became a crime only in 2009. In recent decades, the incidence of immigrants among reported, arrested, convicted, and detained people has increased. However, research has shown no clear link between immigration and criminality. The over-representation of immigrants in crime statistics can be viewed as the result of both selective activity of criminal justice agencies and a process of primary and secondary criminalization of immigration.
Elena Marchetti and Riley Downie
Indigenous people are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice systems of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Colonization devastated the lives of each country’s First Nations Peoples in ways that left them disproportionately disadvantaged in health, wealth, education, and employment. Socioeconomic disadvantage influences the likelihood of indigenous people coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Other factors such as institutional and systemic bias also play a part. Innovative court practices in each jurisdiction try to redress racial inequality in the criminal justice system and reduce the alarming rate at which indigenous peoples are overrepresented in custody. Quantitative reoffending analyses fail to show that these innovative justice processes have greater success in changing an offender’s behavior than do conventional court processes, but there is evidence that they are exposing indigenous offenders to more meaningful and culturally appropriate court practices.