The New Punitiveness
Edited by John Pratt, David Brown, Mark Brown, Simon Hallsworth, Wayne Morrison
Willan – 2005 – 346 pages
Throughout much of the western world more and more people are being sent to prison, one of a number of changes inspired by a 'new punitiveness' in penal and political affairs. This book seeks to understand these developments, bringing together leading authorities in the field to provide a wide-ranging analysis of new penal trends, compare the development of differing patterns of punishment across different types of societies, and to provide a range of theoretical analyses and commentaries to help understand their significance.
As well as increases in imprisonment this book is also concerned to address a number of other aspects of 'the new punitiveness': firstly, the return of a number of forms of punishment previously thought extinct or inappropriate, such as the return of shaming punishments and chain gangs (in parts of the USA); and secondly, the increasing public involvement in penal affairs and penal development, for example in relation to length of sentences and the California Three Strikes Law, and a growing accreditation of the rights of victims.
The book will be essential reading for students seeking to understand trends and theories of punishment on law, criminology, penology and other courses.
The first part of the book is entitled â€œPunitive trendsâ€� and begins with a powerful requisitoire condemning the fundamental expression of cultural and political choices in the United States of America whereby the remnants of the dark ghetto are grafted onto the penitentiary and penal system to produce a coherent and complement of an obvious policy of â€œcriminalization of povertyâ€�. This thesis is advanced quite forcefully throughout the text, but no where as eloquently as in the course of the opening contribution, â€œThe great penal leap backward: Incarceration in America from Nixon to Clintonâ€�. This powerful text was drawn by Professor Loic Wacquant, the author of the recently published Punir les pauvres. Le nouveau gouvernement de linsecurite sociale, [Paris: Editions Dupuytren, 2004], among other path-breaking work, and provides quite valuable guidance on the reasons why America has not continued to â€œcomplyâ€� with the homeostastic theory touching the level of incarceration in modern societies, notably the demise of rehabilitation, the mutation of the political and media uses of criminality and the fundamental political desire to reinforce penal repression by means of laws having as their touchstone punitiveness. The compelling conclusion advanced and fully defended is that the penal system has partly supplanted and partly supplemented the ghetto as a mechanism of racial control. The analysis not only makes plain the deep structural and functional symbiosis that has emerged between the ghetto and the prison, it has also demonstrated ably that the war on drugs is a deliberate state sponsored action, involving massive resources, with a view to maximizing electoral support by attacking black and other minority groups. This general thesis is then further developed in Chapter 3, â€œCrime control in Western countries, 1970 to 2000â€�, by Lyn Hinds. By exploring the twin measures of the number of people incarcerated per 100,000 population and the number of police officers for the same population, the author exposes the higher rate of custody in America as contrasted with Australia and Europe and, in addition, and no doubt more importantly, we are provided with significant insights respecting the crime control variations across states for the past decades. In this vein, I wish to add that the Student Handbook of Criminal Justice and Criminology, edited by John Muncie and David Wilson, contains these remarks, penned by Barry Goldson: â€œAlthough â€˜officialâ€™ statistics do not appear to indicate that youth crime is significantly increasing in scope and / or severity, recent policy and practice responses to â€˜young offendersâ€™ have taken a markedly punitive turn.â€� (See page 221 of â€œYouth Crime and Youth Justiceâ€�, on pages 221-234). The next contribution whose value I wish to underscore in particular is found on pages 121-138 and was authored by Estella Baker and Julian V. Roberts and is titled â€œGlobalization and the new punitivenessâ€�. In essence, the authors sought (and succeed) in demonstrating to what extent globalization has contributed to the upsurge in sanctions with particular emphasis on the timing of this phenomenon, the cross-border homogeneity which is evident upon close study, and the prevalence of the preoccupation with risk. In effect, the globalization forces are identified as creating or facilitating the creation of a policy environment in which punitive policies may thrive. At this point, it will be useful to digress somewhat in order to note the contributions of Professors Dawn Moore and Kelly Hannah-Moffat in â€œThe liberal veil: revisiting Canadian penaltyâ€�, on pages 85-100. As they observe in the course of their introduction on page 85: â€œThe â€˜Canadian modelâ€™ of punishment operates under a liberal veil and is increasingly popular and far removed from the kind of punishment described throughout the punitive turn thesis.â€� Although their objective was not to demonstrate why the incidence of Canadian â€œpunitivenessâ€� in sentencing was markedly restrained in comparison to other jurisdictions, they do offer certain clues to guide future research efforts in this vein. Notwithstanding this interesting exploration of Canadaâ€™s seemingly isolated position, in addition to two other chapters to the same effect found in Part 3 â€œNon-punitive societiesâ€�, the punitive turn which is demonstrated in this study3 is so evident that it need not be reviewed further, permitting me to draw attention in particular to Part 4, â€œExplanationsâ€�, and especially to the contribution of Professor Wayne Morrison, perhaps the most insightful and promising of the contributions with respecting to the long-term understanding of punishment, â€œRethinking narratives of penal change in global contextâ€�, on pages 290-307. In summary, he seeks to argue the following, as recorded on page 290: â€œ[â€¦] our narratives of penal change must be reassessed and complemented by analyses that adopt a self-conscious global context [â€¦]â€� In other words, it will be necessary in the future to avoid unduly constraining analysis by reason of an implicit identification of society or community with notions of self-sustaining systems. As made plain on page 290: â€œin modernity no â€˜societyâ€™ or â€˜nation-stateâ€™ should be treated as if they were a self-sustaining system [for] all are part of a global entity.â€� The discussion that follows is quite simply a tour de force review of the various strands that make up this bedeviling question and is highly recommended for making plain that the â€œbiggest non-punitive area we inhabit is the global international systemâ€� as evidenced by the paucity of prosecutions for such epoch-marking crimes such as genocide. Indeed, one cannot easily recall a more lucid argument than the one by which the author states that some 165 million victims of murder did not have their crimes prosecuted, much less counted in any official statistical register (See page 294). In conclusion, although it is no easy task to summarize a quite valuable text of 319 pages involving 17 contributions on so important a subject, I will attempt to do so by stating that this is an indictment of current sentencing practices based on current political beliefs and that opponents of increased punitiveness could hardly find a better analysis of the subject. GILLES RENAUD Ontario Court of Justice
1 Introduction, the editors Part 1: Punitive Trends 2. The great leap backward: imprisonment in America from Nixon to Clinton, Loic Wacquant 3. Crime control in western countries, 1970 to 2000, Lyn Hinds 4. Continuity, rupture or just more of the 'volatile and contradictory'?: glimpses of New South Wales' penal practice behind and through the discursive, David Brown 5. Supermax meets death row: legal struggles around the new punitiveness in the USA, Mona Lynch 6. The liberal veil: revisiting Canadian penality, Dawn Moore and Kelly Hannah-Moffat 7. Contemporary statecraft and the 'punitive obsession': a critique of the new penology thesis, Roy Coleman and Joe Sim Part 2: Globalisation, Technology and Surveillance 8. Globalisation and the new punitiveness, Estella Baker and Julian V. Roberts 9. Engaging with punitive attitudes towards crime and punishment: some strategic lessons from England and Wales, Mick Ryan 10. The ad and the form: punitiveness and technological culture, Katjo Franko Aaas 11. Electronic monitoring, satellite tracking and the new punitiveness in England and Wales, Mike Nellis Part 3: Non-Punitive Societies 12. Levels of punitiveness in Scandinavia: description and explanation, Ulla Bondeson 13. Missing the punitive turn? Canadian criminal justice, 'balance' and penal modernism, Jeffrey Meyer and Pat O'Malley 14. When is a society non-punitive? The Italian case, David Nelken Part 4: Explanations 15. Modernity and the punitive, Simon Hallsworth 16. Elias, punishment and civilisation, John Pratt 17. Liberal exclusions and the new punitiveness, Mark Brown 18. Rethinking narratives of penal change in global context, Wayne Morrison
John Pratt is Professor of Criminology, and James Cook Research Fellow in Social Science at the Institute of Criminology, at the Victoria University of Wellington.
David Brown is Associate Professor in the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University, Australia.
Mark Brown is a Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences, Melbourne University. His primary reserearch interests encompass penality, corrections, and colonial penal history.
Simon Hallsworth is Director of the Universities Centre for Social Evaluation Research, and Principal Lecturer in the Department of Applied Social Science at London Metropolitan University.
Wayne Morrison works within the Edexcel Foundation External Programme for Law, UK.