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Enemy Penology  

Susanne Krasmann

When Guenther Jakobs introduced the concept of “enemy criminal law” (Feindstrafrecht), or enemy penology, into the legal debate, this was due to a concern with the increasingly anticipatory nature of criminalization in German legislation in the last decades of the 20th century. Against the backdrop of a series of terror attacks in the West and the ensuing debates on how to deal with the dangers and threats of the new millennium, Jakobs’s theory gained new momentum in Germany’s public discourse and beyond. As it seems, the author himself turned the concept into a device for political intervention, declaring the notion of the enemy as indispensable for dealing with certain extreme crimes and notorious offenders, not only to prevent future crime and avert harm from society but also, and most notably, to preserve the established “citizen criminal law” (Bürgerstrafrecht): the enemy is the one to be isolated and excluded from the system. Enemy criminal law may be a peculiar legal concept. The logic of enemy penology, however, leads us to some more fundamental insights into the conundrums of liberal political thinking and attendant legal conceptions. It requires us to think about the enemy as a liminal figure that points to the preconditions and the paradoxes of our legal system. The history of criminology attests to the discipline’s struggle with penal law’s inherent limitations. And if we live today in times where exception and rule, internal security and external security, and military and police concerns increasingly overlap and intermingle in the face of ever new threats, the notion of enemy penology helps us to critically reflect on the mechanisms that drive these transformations.

Article

Left Realism: “Taking Crime Seriously”  

Jayne Mooney

Left realism emerged in the mid-1980s as a criminological theory of the Left. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had been voted into power in the United Kingdom on a largely law-and-order ticket. Thatcher led an administration of the radical Right, close in politics to Ronald Reagan’s Republicanism in the United States, bound to laissez-faire economics, to incentives for work, cutting back on the welfare state, and a heavily punitive response to street crime. Yet, despite Thatcher’s law-and-order agenda, the crime rate continued to rise, and there was widespread public unease about crime and disorder, especially in inner-city areas. Riots, largely the result of political marginalization and aggressive policing, which had occurred against a background of high unemployment and deprivation, impacted several major British cities and, in particular, communities of color. Although central government was Conservative, many of the metropolitan councils (local government) were Labour Party controlled and were committed to addressing the high levels of unemployment, caused by Thatcher’s monetarist policies, together with the growing problem of crime, while, at the same time, curbing the excessive use of police powers. The latter was viewed as the major cause of the riots and as having resulted in a plethora of police malpractices. This provided the impetus and support for left realism: a perspective intent on identifying problems of crime and policing in urban areas, committed to keeping law-and-order issues high on the political agenda, and seeking to find crime-control policies that were progressive and non-authoritarian, with the understanding that ultimately change had to occur at the level of the social structure. The substantive inequalities that tarnish the social fabric had to be confronted. While left realism is concerned with state and corporate crime, it became particularly associated with tackling the problems of street crime—that is, crime which directly affected poor and working-class communities. The aim of left realism is to take the problem of crime seriously, to listen to the concerns of ordinary people, especially those living on inner-city housing estates [projects], and to reclaim the politics of crime and disorder from the Right. The founding text of left realism was John Lea and Jock Young’s What Is To Be Done About Law and Order? (a book greatly influenced by Ian Taylor’s Law and Order: Arguments for Socialism). Initially, conceived as a Left social democratic project that would work to intervene both theoretically in criminological debates and politically in the Party politics of the day, in recent years there has been a revival of interest in left realism and its development. Its aim being that of advancing what John Lea described as “a radical program for social justice” to confront the challenges of the contemporary period.

Article

Critical Criminology and the Critique of Domination, Inequality and Injustice  

David O. Friedrichs

Critical criminology has achieved a substantial presence within the field of criminology over the past several decades. Critical criminology has produced a framework for the understanding of crime and criminal justice that challenges core premises of mainstream criminology. Critical criminology emerged—principally from about 1980 on—in relation to radical (and “new”) criminology in the 1970s, and various influential societal developments and forces associated with the Sixties. The roots of critical criminology can be located in Marxist theory, in the work of Willem Bonger, and in that of other scholars who were not self-identified radicals—including Edwin H. Sutherland. Interactionist (labeling) theory and conflict theory provided an important point of departure for the development of radical—and subsequently critical—criminology. More specifically, the Berkeley School of Criminology in the United States and the National Deviancy Conferences in the United Kingdom were influential sources for the emergence of critical criminology. The core thesis of critical criminology can be most concisely summarized as a critique of domination, inequality, and injustice. Starting with the definition of “crime” itself, critical criminologists expose the biases and political agenda of mainstream criminology and advance an alternative approach to understanding crime and criminal justice. That said, some different choices are made by self-identified critical criminologists in terms of underlying assumptions, methodological preferences, and different forms of activist engagement. A call for news-making criminology, or a form of public criminology, is one theme for activism: direct political mobilization is another. The term “critical criminology” today is best understood as an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of different perspectives with quite different core concerns. Some of these strains were more dominant at an earlier time; some have emerged or become more prominent recently. The following are among the most enduring and consequential strains of critical criminology: neo-Marxist, critical race, left realist, feminist, crimes of the powerful, green, cultural, peacemaking, abolitionist, postmodern, postcolonial, border, and queer criminology. Some critical criminologists have called for replacing the core focus on crime with a focus on harm, broadly defined, and replacing criminology with zemiology, or the study of harm. Critical criminologists have concerned themselves with crimes of the powerful; gendered, sexualized harm and intimate partner violence; raced harm and racial oppression; hate crime; the war on drugs; the war on immigrants; police violence and the militarization of the police; mass incarceration and privatized criminal justice; carceral regimes; mass imprisonment; the death penalty, and alternative forms of justice including a form of restorative justice—among many other substantive concerns. The call for a Southern criminology that incorporates the outlook and concerns of the Global South is one significant development within critical criminology. Critical criminology has the potential to be of special relevance within the context of a historical period characterized by intense conflicts in relation to the political economy and civil society.

Article

Theory and Green Criminology  

Kimberly L. Barrett and Rachelle F. Marshall

Green criminology refers to a perspective within criminology that, broadly speaking, is devoted to the study of crime against and harms to the natural environment. Initially, green criminology was introduced as the study of environmental harm from a political-economic vantage point and was informed by theories from critical, radical, and political-economic (e.g., “conflict paradigm”) perspectives. Over time, however, new definitions of green criminology have emerged, as have new terms for the criminological study of environmental crimes (e.g., “conservation criminology”). These developments have invited new theoretical interpretations of environmental crime and justice. While conflict theories still maintain a degree of centrality in green criminology, the perspective has expanded to include mainstream theoretical orientations (e.g., “classical paradigm,” “consensus/positivist paradigm”) as well.

Article

Critical Criminologies  

Walter S. DeKeseredy

There is no single critical criminology. Rather, there are critical criminologies with different histories, methods, theories, and political perspectives. However, critical criminology is often defined as a perspective that views the major sources of crime as the unequal class, race/ethnic, and gender relations that control our society. Critical criminologists oppose prisons and other draconian means of social control. Their main goal is major radical and cultural change, but they recognize that these transitions will not occur in the current neoliberal era. Hence, most critical criminologists propose short-term anticrime policies and practices and fundamental social, economic, and political transformations, such as a change from a capitalist economy to one based on more socialist principles.