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Punitivity International Developments: Vol. 1: Punitiveness – a Global Phenomenon?

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Length: 426 pages2 minutes

Summary

During the past two decades criminological discussion in Western industrial societies has been increasingly focused on the concept of punitiveness, a concept that is frequently linked to the staggering rise in inmate numbers in the United States from the first half of the 1970 onward, making it the country with the highest prison rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the Western world. Lee sees the development in the United States in connexion with the growing discussion of "fear of crime" during the late 1960s. "Since the late 1960s the fear of crime has progressively become a profoundly engaging field of study for criminologists and other social researchers" (2001, p. 467; see also Hale 1996). The findings of inquiries and opinion polls, which confirmed the presence of such fears among the population, moved the topic to the forefront and it did not take long until it was "discovered" by politicians. This development went hand in hand with increased media reporting on crime related matters, usually concerning spectacular cases, and thus creating in the population a distorted image of the actual extent and nature of crime (see Beckett and Sasson 2004). Some politicians were quick to use this erroneous perception for their own purposes by creating so-called "politics of fear" (see, for instance, for Japan Miyazawa 2008).

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