The Crime Complex

With a new president in office, it is important to be reminded of the economic and political factors that increase crime and violence in America.

Merlene's Memos


The Crime Complex

by Merlene Reynolds

New crime control strategies are rooted in a reactionary thematization produced not just by crime; but by the whole reactionary culture and politics. The primary themes of these new strategies of crime control are expressive, punitive, victim-centered and politicized efforts to control the attitudes and behaviors in a high crime society. The liberation dynamic of the 1960’s ‘late modernity’ emphasized freedom, openness, mobility, and tolerance; whereas, the reactionary culture stresses control, closure, confinement and condemnation (Garland, 2001, pp. 165; 198).

The widespread feeling that crime and violence are rapidly spinning out of control contributes to the reactionary behaviors of citizens and government authorities. Even during the good times of economic growth and higher standards of living, explains Garland (2000), “there is every sign that the shift towards punitive justice and a security build-up is continuing unabated” (p. 203). The “unabated” shift towards punitive…

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