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Other titles in the Studies in Crime and Public Policy series:
Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)by Jonathan Simon
Synopses & Reviews
Across America today gated communities sprawl out from urban centers, employers enforce mandatory drug testing, and schools screen students with metal detectors. Social problems ranging from welfare dependency to educational inequality have been reconceptualized as crimes, with an attendant focus on assigning fault and imposing consequences. Even before the recent terrorist attacks, non-citizen residents had become subject to an increasingly harsh regime of detention and deportation, and prospective employees subjected to background checks. How and when did our everyday world become dominated by fear, every citizen treated as a potential criminal?
In this startlingly original work, Jonathan Simon traces this pattern back to the collapse of the New Deal approach to governing during the 1960s when declining confidence in expert-guided government policies sent political leaders searching for new models of governance. The War on Crime offered a ready solution to their problem: politicians set agendas by drawing analogies to crime and redefined the ideal citizen as a crime victim, one whose vulnerabilities opened the door to overweening government intervention. By the 1980s, this transformation of the core powers of government had spilled over into the institutions that govern daily life. Soon our schools, our families, our workplaces, and our residential communities were being governed through crime.
This powerful work concludes with a call for passive citizens to become engaged partners in the management of risk and the treatment of social ills. Only by coming together to produce security, can we free ourselves from a logic of domination by others, and from the fear that currently rules our everyday life.
All over America today, schoolyards are equipped with metal detectors and gated communities flourish. Pat-downs are a regular occurrence at airports and strollers are strip-searched at shopping malls. How and when did our everyday world become dominated by fear, every citizen treated as a potential criminal? In this groundbreaking work, Jonathan Simon argues that our institutions of everyday life — our schools, our families, our workplaces, our residential communities — are now being governed through crime. Tracing this pattern back to the mid-60's, Simon shows how the collapse of the New Deal left political leaders with the problem of searching for new models of governance, a problem to which crime became the solution. The War on Crime helped politicians redefine their ambitions and strategies. They learned how to think in terms of crime metaphors, manipulate the power of crime victims, and became familiar with technologies of controlling crime. Finding these methods powerful and transferable, political leaders effected a transformation of the core powers of government — the executive, legislative and judicial — which eventually spilled over into the institutions that govern everyday life. Governing crime became governing through crime, in every aspect of modern life. Simon concludes that only by confronting and disrupting the endless flow of images and metaphors of crime and crime victims can we eradicate the cancerous growth of the current harsh governance.
About the Author
Jonathan Simon is Associate Dean of Jurisprudence and Social Policy and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Co-editor of the journal Punishment & Society, he is also the author of Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990 and co-editor of two other volumes.
Table of Contents
Introduction Crime and American Governance
1. Power, Authority, and the Criminal Law.
2. "Prosecutor-in-chief": Executive Authority since the War on Crime.
3. We the Victims: Featuring Crime and Making Law.
4. Judgement and Distrust: The Jurisprudence of Crime and the Decline of Judicial Government.
5. Project Exile: Race, the War on Crime, and Mass Imprisonment.
6. Crime Families: Governing Domestic Relations through Crime.
7. Safe Schools: Reforming Education through Crime.
8. Penalty Box: Victimization and Punishment in the Deregulated Work Place.
9. Wars on Governance: From Cancer to Crime to Terror.
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