Theoretical Criminology

Sage Publications, Inc.
Publication date:

Latest documents

  • Book Review: Intersecting Lives: How Place Shapes Reentry by Andrea Leverentz
  • Deen and Dunya: Islam, street spirituality, crime and redemption in English road culture

    This article presents ethnographic and media analysis that explores how Islam has come to shape conceptions of the material, sacred, crime and redemption in contemporary English street culture. Islam’s clear dichotomy between the mundane ‘Dunya’ and sacred ‘Deen’ shape how socio-economically marginalised, ethnic minority men make sense of the world around them. Stark inequalities have tainted the material world for the UK’s most disadvantaged, prompting them to seek redemption entirely outside it – in the world of the sacred where they can experience warmth. In analysing their experiences we highlight how paths to desistance have arguably been overlooked where analyses of Islam in street culture have focused on questions of radicalisation.

  • Dead or alive? Reassessing the health of the death penalty and the prospects of global abolition

    There is a growing position among human rights advocates, academics and UN officials, predicting “the death of the death penalty”, and forecasting that it will completely disappear soon. This article questions and problematizes this prediction, exploring the assumptions, premises and gaps that underpin the optimistic outlook. Based on analysis of abolitionist discourse, three fallacies are identified and analyzed: a progressive fallacy, assuming the death penalty is a barbaric anachronism in the “civilized” modern world and displaying a teleological belief in its demise; a classificatory fallacy, entailing defining-down the prevalence of the death penalty through the category of “de-facto abolition”; and a functional fallacy, assuming that repudiating the death penalty as a crime-fighting tool will cause its demise, overlooking its transformation into an institution serving political-symbolic functions. In concluding, I suggest viewing the global death penalty as bifurcated: dying as an ordinary law-enforcement tool, but relatively healthy as an extraordinary political symbol.

  • Practice without prospect: The imaginary response to the recording and investigations of sexual assault in prison

    This article draws on Incident Reporting System data from the National Offender Management Service over a ten-year period (2004–2014) and limited, small-scale interviews with four custodial managers. Pat Carlen's work (2008) on imaginary penalities provides the theoretical framework for an assessment of the reporting, recording and initial response to sexual assaults in prisons in England and Wales. The article argues that the recording of sexual assaults became part of a response to new management systems that emphasised compliance, process and audit rather than realising safety in custody. Although the data shows substantial levels of initial activity among staff it is, in essence, practice without prospect. The article suggests that outcomes generally for sexual assaults in prisons in England and Wales are uncertain. Incident reporting has become a bureaucratic process ‘or paper shadow’, which Goffman described as showing ‘what has been done by whom, what is to be done, and who last had responsibility for it’ (Goffman 1961: 73).

  • Book Review: The Horror of Police by Travis Linnemann
  • Victim as a relative status

    This article advances a theory of the ‘relative’ nature of victim status, demonstrating that whether an individual is identified as a victim is, in part, conditional on their relationships with others. Using the example of victim identification in cases of child criminal exploitation, this article demonstrates that youth justice practitioners’ perceptions of young people's peer relationships and their relationships with their families had a significant impact on whether young people were identified as victims of child criminal exploitation. To explain this dynamic, this article then further explores the conceptual nature of victim status, focusing on its transient and finite qualities. In doing so, this article begins to address the relational gap in the study of processes of victim identification.

  • Book Review: Indefinite: Doing Time in Jail by Michael L Walker
  • Book Review: Suspended: Punishment, Violence, and the Failure of School Safety by Charles Bell
  • ‘Come on mate, let's make you a cup of tea’: Theorising materiality and its impacts on detainee dignity inside police detention

    In this article, we examine detainee experiences of dignity in police detention through the lens of materiality. To do this, we draw on sociological and anthropological literature on the ‘material turn’ and its application to criminal justice settings, and a mixed-methods study of police custody in England and Wales. First, we conceptualise different dimensions of materiality in police custody. Second, we show how some forms of materiality, in conjunction with staff–detainee relationships, shape detainee dignity rooted in equal worth, privacy and autonomy. Third, we examine how the intertwining of the social and material in police custody opens up new possibilities for theorising police work. The materiality of police work is active, not just symbolic. Alongside social relations, it shapes citizen experiences of the police, including of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ forms of policing, and by implication, pain and injustice. Materiality therefore provides a further way of theorising the production of social order inside and outside police detention.

  • Carceral racialization, prison segregation, and the Integrated Housing Program in Arizona

    Prisoners in the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry (ADCRR) coordinate to circumvent full racial housing integration, revealing how “race” and adherence to the “racial code” is used as an organizing concept in carceral settings that is distinct from conceptualizations of race and politics of identity within free society. In addition to providing a review of the literature on the complexity of prison racialization, we base our discussion of racialization and adherence to the racial code on our combined experience as formerly racialized and gang-affiliated inmates, as well as on insights from informal and semi-structured interviews with prisoners who have navigated attempts at racial integration as part of the ADCRR's recently adopted Integrated Housing Program.

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