THE CULTURE OF CONTROL: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society

David Garland, Author . Univ. of Chicago $29 (336p) ISBN 978-0-226-28383-8

How, asks NYU Law professor Garland, did we—in both the U.S. and Britain—evolve into a society obsessed with crime and meting out increasingly harsh punishments? In an engrossing, complex study, Garland (Punishment and Welfare) pursues a somewhat familiar thesis—that falling crime rates are accompanied paradoxically by expanded imprisonment, curtailment of civil liberties and stigmatization of a largely minority underclass—by closely addressing subtle gradations of class and race relations. Garland initially charts how the "penal-welfare" system of rehabilitation, parole and social assistance rapidly fell from favor after nearly a century of widespread acceptance. The pursuit of seemingly radical ideologies (e.g., prisoner rights) by criminal-justice theorists during the 1960s and '70s alienated politicians and the public, paving the way for "law and order" revivals (epitomized by the Reagan administration in the U.S. and Thatcher's in England) emphasizing "punitive sanctions and expressive justice" (justice that conveys public sentiment). Garland traces the ascendance of "crime-in-the-streets" rhetoric evidenced in American gun culture, the victims' rights movement and the rising private security sector (e.g., gated communities). Meanwhile, lawmakers advocate more aggressive policing styles (as in New York's Mayor Giuliani's "quality of life" sweeps), and longer terms in harsher prisons. Garland also examines changing conceptions of the criminal "other" and public willingness to deem offenders a sub-citizenry undeserving of fundamental liberties. This ambitious book's formal prose may prove slow going for mainstream readers, as opposed to the more accessible Going Up the River (see Forecasts, Feb. 5), by Joseph Hallinan, which covers similar material. Still, this sweeping yet finely detailed examination of law enforcement's drift towards punishment and away from rehabilitation makes an important contribution. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Paperback - 307 pages - 978-0-226-28384-5
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