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Article

Roberto R. Aspholm

Street gangs first emerged on a broad scale in U.S. cities in the late 19th century in step with industrialization, urbanization, and mass waves of European immigration. Up until the 1960s, the vast majority of gang members in the United States were second- and third-generation European immigrants. Like their Black and Latino successors, these groups routinely engaged in collective violence, which helped push nationwide levels of homicide to a historic peak toward the end of Prohibition. At the same time, White ethnic gangs were integrated into the urban political machines and organized crime syndicates of that era. Moreover, these groups existed within a burgeoning urban industrial economy in which an abundance of low-skilled manufacturing jobs provided readily available opportunities for gang members to transition out of gang life in late adolescence or early adulthood. New Deal policies institutionalizing protections for unions and workers and expanding homeownership opportunities via federal mortgage underwriting, in turn, greatly enhanced economic security for widening sectors of the working class, especially White workers. In short, political patronage, lucrative illegal rackets, a vibrant labor movement, and New Deal labor and housing policies variously punched a ticket to upward mobility for countless White gang members during this period, and, by the mid-1960s, White street gangs had largely disappeared from the urban landscape. During and after World War II, meanwhile, millions of Southern Blacks as well as Mexicans and Puerto Ricans migrated to America’s urban industrial centers. Conversely, millions of Whites left these cities in the postwar decades, an exodus facilitated by federal highway construction and housing policies that promoted racially exclusive suburbanization. Industry largely followed this outmigration in search of cheaper land, more pliable labor, lower taxes, and greater profits, leaving many central cities economically devastated and without an industrial base for their increasingly Black and Latino working class. At the same time, the urban political machines and organized crime groups that had once provided mobility for White ethnic gangs were in dramatic decline as municipal governance was bureaucratized and criminal rackets were supplanted by the development and expansion of legalized gambling and revolving credit markets. It is within this context that contemporary Black and Latino street gangs emerged and have persisted since the 1960s. Unlike their White predecessors, today’s gang members have been largely excluded from the conventional economy at the same time that society has abandoned the welfare state in favor of incarceration as its major strategy for managing inequality. Prison, the illicit drug trade, and persistent economic dislocation are among the fundamental realities shaping life for contemporary gang members. Street gangs, violence, and crime, both historical and contemporary, must be understood against this broader backdrop of societal transformation.

Article

Lynnea Davis, P. J. Houston, and Danielle S. Rudes

Probation officers (POs) are perhaps the correctional workers with the greatest reach, since more people are under probation supervision relative to every other correctional branch (i.e., jail, prison, and parole). The individuals under probation supervision and the community-at-large depend on POs to do their job well. However, POs have a job that requires them to make numerous decisions within an organization with conflicting goals and ambiguous roles, often with great discretionary power and little oversight. This relatively autonomous discretionary power often produces racial disparities in probation outcomes, the misuse of evidence-based tools such as risk and needs assessments, and ultimately the inability of probation organizations to effectuate change. These effects have negative consequences for probation organizations, probationers, and POs themselves. Participatory management produces an organizing framework that calls for hierarchical organizations to take a balanced approach to decision-making by increasing information sharing throughout the organizational hierarchy. This organizational structure carries the potential to remedy these aforementioned problems. By increasing oversight and accountability for POs via participatory management, POs’ discretionary power may be managed without limiting decision-making. Participatory management may create additional benefits such as increasing the efficiency of probation organizations, improving client outcomes for probationers, and increasing occupational satisfaction for POs. There are numerous potential threats to participatory management and several solutions for overcoming them. The main solution calls on probation agencies to make participatory management as effective as possible by constructing an equal balance between a loosely and tightly coupled organizational implementation of policies and practices.

Article

Jennifer H. Peck and Richard L. Elligson

The relationship between race, ethnicity, and police–community relations can be traced through the historical development of the United States. Through the eras of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and, most recently, the Black Lives Matter movement, police–community relations with racial and ethnic minorities are a complex and complicated area of inquiry. Although research has shown that Blacks hold the most negative perceptions of police, followed by Hispanics and then Whites, understanding race relations between minority citizens and law enforcement is tied to numerous issues. The individual and combined effects of disadvantaged neighborhood characteristics, personal and vicarious experiences with police, and media exposure to high-profile incidents of police–citizen encounters are only a few of the factors that relate to differences in police–community relations across racial/ethnic groups. To mitigate the negative effect of media exposure of high-profile incidents related to police perceptions and behaviors, organizational justice is one component of law enforcement that may offer some perspective. Additional issues that are correlated with police–community relations for Blacks and Hispanics are greater levels of mistrust between minorities and the police, over- and underenforcement in minority communities, and negative perceptions of police legitimacy and procedural justice held by minorities. Problems surrounding police culture, cynicism, and misconduct (e.g., use of force) are further areas that connect to police–community relations and are more salient for minority residents than for their White counterparts. Practices such as the use of evidence-based policing, invested partnerships between social services and law enforcement, the fair and effective use of authority and force by police, and understanding the specific needs of minority communities may provide promising areas for the enhancement of police–community relations with minorities.

Article

Nicholas Walrath and Travis Linnemann

The year 2020 saw police militarization again thrust into debates regarding the nature and extent of police violence. Critics of police militarization suggest that as departments have assumed military weaponry and tactics, the institution has drifted from its original mandate of crime control and public service, portending lethal consequences for the most vulnerable. While these critics trace its origins to the advent of SWAT, No Knock raids and other tactics born of the war on drugs, what is misread as the “blurring” of military and police is in fact symptomatic of a much older process of pacification, whereby both the war power and the police power are enlisted to discipline surplus populations and establish market conditions in the interests of capital. From this position, policing has not been poisoned by the practices of war, nor have the boundaries between foreign and domestic muddied, but rather military and police are mutually constitutive and parts of a continuum of state violence. Here the “iron fist” of open violence and repression and the velvet glove of “community policing” work in conjunction to facilitate the conditions of liberal social order.

Article

Jacques de Maillard and Jan Terpstra

Community (oriented) policing has become one of the most popular models of policing worldwide. After its initial implementation in many Western countries, community policing has also been transferred to transitional societies, which often lack strong democratic traditions. The international diffusion of community policing should not make us forget that community policing comes in all shapes and sizes and is highly varied in its operations. After having defined the concept and analyzed its rise in Anglo-American countries, this diversity is illustrated by scrutinizing its implementation in different national configurations: a continental European country relatively open to Anglo-American influences (the Netherlands), socially homogeneous countries with a high level of trust in the police (the Nordic countries), a centralized country with an administrative Napoleonic tradition (France), and postconflict societies (South Africa and Northern Ireland). These various national trajectories highlight the common drivers and barriers in community policing reforms: political priorities (through emphasizing crime fighting or zero tolerance policing), socioeconomic disparities and ethnic tensions (which may imply a history of mistrust and vicious circles between the police and some segments of the public), professional identities and interests (disqualifying community police officers as “social workers”), and organizational resources (managerial procedures, lack of training and human resources) that may hinder the reform process. These diverse experiences also draw attention to the variety of context-dependent factors that impact the fate of community policing reforms. Political climates, police–government relations, socioeconomic inequalities, and police traditions may differ, which requires further analysis of the various political, historical, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts of specific community policing reforms.

Article

Tina Maschi, Keith Morgen, Annette Hintenach, and Adriana Kaye

There has been a growing awareness among academic and professional communities, as well as the general public, of the global rise in the number of aging prisoners across the world. Both the scholarly literature and social media have documented the high human, social, and economic costs of housing older adults with complex physical, mental health, legal, and social needs. It is imperative to explore the crisis and select correctional policies and practices that have contributed to the rise in the aging and the seriously and terminally ill populations in global prisons. A comparative framing and analysis across the globe show how some countries, such as the United States, have a higher per capita rate of incarcerating older adults in prisons compared to other countries, such as Northern Ireland. Variations in profiles and manifestations of personal and social conditions affect pathways to prison for some older adults. Explanatory perspectives describe why some individuals are at an increased risk of growing old in prison compared to other individuals. Indigeneity, globalization, race and ethnicity, power and inequality, and processes of development and underdevelopment have affected the growth of the aging prison population. Promising practices have the potential to disengage social mechanisms that have contributed to the mass incarceration of the elderly and engage a more compassionate approach to crime and punishment for people of all ages, their families, and communities.

Article

Rob Hornsby and Dick Hobbs

The United Kingdom has seen the rise and subsequent demise of armed robbery by serious and organized criminals. The emergence of armed robbery must be considered within a context of criminal progression forged by the wider political economy and its developments, which shape the opportunities and characteristics of professional criminals. The shift from a cash-based economy towards a credit-constructed economic milieu witnessed the demise of craft crimes such as safe-cracking and the growth of project-based criminality such as armed robbery. The subsequent decline in professional armed robbers attacking banks, post offices, building societies, and cash-in-transit targets can be regarded as the result of control-of-crime strategies and situational crime prevention tactics. There has been increasing use of security measures, including (but not exclusively) within the banking sector, such as in-house closed-circuit television (CCTV), indelible dyes for tainting stolen money, and wider “risk society” measures including, for example, widespread street CCTV, automated number plate recognition, and an increasing shift to credit or debit card transactions. This approach to situational crime control has been successful, leading “elite” professional criminals to seek alternative illicit opportunities and leaving contemporary armed robbers, generally amateurs, deskilled and often desperate individuals.

Article

Clifford Shearing and Philip Stenning

Significant developments in our understandings of, and thinking about, “policing” have occurred in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These have been reflected in redefinitions of the words “police” and “policing” that scholars use when writing about it. By the middle of the 19th century the word "police" in English was understood to refer to the state-sponsored institution responsible for order maintenance, crime control, and law enforcement, and its officers; and the word policing referred to what its officers did to achieve these objectives. Police were typically referred to as “the police,” indicating that they uniquely performed this role. But in the decades after the Second World War, scholars and consultants brought the world’s attention to a dramatic growth in nonstate institutions that were fulfilling similar roles; they were referred to as “private security.” Research revealed that private security were undertaking the same tasks and responsibilities as the police were but doing so in different ways, with different objectives, and different means. They more often saw their role as loss prevention—rather than crime control—and did not see presenting offenders before the criminal justice system as a good way to achieve that. Rather, they developed ways of achieving order and preventing losses that drew on the power of their clients—for instance to exclude troublemakers from their property—rather than the kinds of legal powers relied on by the police, which they typically did not have anyway. Policing scholars began to talk of “private police” and “private policing.” What is more, research revealed that within a couple of decades of the end of the Second World War, private security personnel had come to outnumber public police personnel, in some countries by as much as 3 to 1. It also became apparent that even within government there was an increasing number of organizations and personnel, other than “the police,” such as customs officials, tax inspectors, and so forth, who could also be considered to be doing policing. Many police researchers redefined themselves as policing researchers, interested in studying all these different public and private organizations and personnel who seemed to be doing policing, and what their relationships with each other were. By the 1990s, in light of these research findings, policing scholars began to talk about plural policing provision, rather than just about the relationships between “private security” and “the police.” A whole lot of new questions arose: Who is doing policing? What are the different ways of doing it? In whose interests is it being done? What are the implications of this for policing policy? How can policing provision be effectively governed given its prolific diversity? How are developments like globalization and technological advances impacting the challenges faced by policing providers? And which providers are best placed to meet which of these challenges? And finally, is policing just about addressing human threats to safety and security ? What about threats to safety and security arising from natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and droughts, or other manifestations of climate change such as global warming? Or from pandemics and the like? Or from the development of artificial intelligence? In short, what do “policing” and policing provision mean in the 21st century? And how will we understand and think about them in the future? Certainly not as we understood them in the middle of the 20th century.

Article

Elise Sargeant, Julie Barkworth, and Natasha S. Madon

Fairness and equity are key concerns in modern liberal democracies. In step with this general trend, academics and practitioners have long been concerned with the fairness of procedures utilized by the criminal justice system. Definitions vary, but procedural justice is loosely defined as fair treatment and fair decision-making by authorities. In the criminal justice system, the procedural justice of authorities such as police officers, judicial officers, and correctional officers is evaluated by members of the public. Procedural justice in the criminal justice system is viewed as an end in and of itself, but it is also an opportunity to yield various outcomes including legitimacy, public compliance with the law, cooperation with criminal justice officials, and satisfaction with criminal justice proceedings and outcomes.

Article

Leslie Holmes

Police corruption is ubiquitous and is a serious problem for numerous reasons. One is that police officers are often armed and can therefore pose a physical threat to citizens in a way that most other state officials do not. Another is that citizens typically expect the police to uphold the law and be the “final port of call” in fighting crime, including that of other state officials: if law enforcement officers cannot be trusted, most citizens have nowhere else to turn when seeking justice. Leading on from this, if citizens do not trust the police, they are much less likely to cooperate with them, resulting in higher unsolved crime rates. Yet according to Transparency International’s 2017 Global Corruption Barometer, more people pay bribes to law enforcement officers globally than to any other public officials, rendering the police the most corrupt branch of the state in many countries. Police corruption assumes numerous forms, from relatively benign but irritating demands for bribes from motorists to improper procurement procedures and—most dangerously—collusion with organized crime gangs in the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and humans, and occasionally even in contract killing. One other form of miscreancy was identified in the 1980s as largely peculiar to the police, namely “noble cause corruption.” This term, also known as the “Dirty Harry problem,” is applied when police officers deliberately bend or break the law not for personal benefit but in the belief that this is ultimately for the good of society. Many factors drive police corruption, including inadequate salaries, frustration with the leniency of the courts, opportunity, envy (of wealthy criminals), and simple greed. Combating it is no easy task, but methods that have significantly lowered corruption rates in countries such as Singapore and Georgia include reducing discretionary decision-making, radical restructuring, risk assessments, greater use of psychological testing, improving working conditions, lifestyle monitoring, civilian review, and introducing anti-corruption agencies that are completely independent of the police. But police corruption is ultimately a “wicked” problem, meaning that it is so complex and changeable that it can never be completely solved; the best that can be hoped for is that it will be brought down to manageable proportions.