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Benevolent Repression

Social Control and the American Reformatory-Prison Movement

Alexander Pisciotta

The opening, in 1876, of the Elmira Reformatory marked the birth of the American adult reformatory movement and the introduction of a new approach to crime and the treatment of criminals. Hailed as a reform panacea and the humane solution to America's ongoing crisis of crime and social disorder, Elmira sparked an ideological revolution. Repression and punishment were supposedly out. Academic and vocational education, military drill, indeterminate sentencing and parole—"benevolent reform"—were now considered instrumental to instilling in prisoners a respect for God, law, and capitalism.

Not so, says Al Pisciotta, in this highly original, startling, and revealing work. Drawing upon previously unexamined sources from over a half-dozen states and a decade of research, Pisciotta explodes the myth that Elmira and other institutions of "the new penology" represented a significant advance in the treatment of criminals and youthful offenders.

The much-touted programs failed to achieve their goals; instead, prisoners, under Superintendent Zebulon Brockway, considered the Father of American Corrections, were whipped with rubber hoses and two-foot leather straps, restricted to bread and water in dark dungeons during months of solitary confinement, and brutally subjected to a wide range of other draconian psychological and physical abuses intended to pound them into submission. Escapes, riots, violence, drugs, suicide, arson, and rape were the order of the day in these prisons, hardly conducive to the transformation of "dangerous criminal classes into Christian gentleman," as was claimed. Reflecting the racism and sexism in the social order in general, the new penology also legitimized the repression of the lower classes.

Highlighting the disparity between promise and practice in America's prisons, Pisciotta draws on seven inmate case histories to illustrate convincingly that the "March of Progress" was nothing more than a reversion to the ways of old. In short, the adult reformatory movement promised benevolent reform but delivered benevolent repression—a pattern that continues to this day.

A vital contribution to the history of crime, corrections, and criminal justice, this book will also have a major impact on our thinking about contemporary corrections and issues surrounding crime, punishment, and social control.

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Berlin Coquette

Prostitution and the New German Woman, 1890–1933

by Jill Suzanne Smith

During the late nineteenth century the city of Berlin developed such a reputation for lawlessness and sexual licentiousness that it came to be known as the "Whore of Babylon." Out of this reputation for debauchery grew an unusually rich discourse around prostitution. In Berlin Coquette, Jill Suzanne Smith shows how this discourse transcended the usual clichés about prostitutes and actually explored complex visions of alternative moralities or sexual countercultures including the “New Morality” articulated by feminist radicals, lesbian love, and the “New Woman.”

Combining extensive archival research with close readings of a broad spectrum of texts and images from the late Wilhelmine and Weimar periods, Smith recovers a surprising array of productive discussions about extramarital sexuality, women's financial autonomy, and respectability. She highlights in particular the figure of the cocotte (Kokotte), a specific type of prostitute who capitalized on the illusion of respectable or upstanding womanhood and therefore confounded easy categorization. By exploring the semantic connections between the figure of the cocotte and the act of flirtation (of being coquette), Smith’s work presents flirtation as a type of social interaction through which both prostitutes and non-prostitutes in Imperial and Weimar Berlin could express extramarital sexual desire and agency.

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The Best System Money Can Buy

Corruption in the European Union

As the European Union moved in the 1990s to a unified market and stronger common institutions, most observers assumed that the changes would reduce corruption. Aspects of the stronger EU promised to preclude-or at least reduce-malfeasance: regulatory harmonization, freer trade, and privatization of publicly owned enterprises. Market efficiencies would render corrupt practices more visible and less common.

In The Best System Money Can Buy, Carolyn M. Warner systematically and often entertainingly gives the lie to these assumptions and provides a framework for understanding the persistence of corruption in the Western states of the EU. In compelling case studies, she shows that under certain conditions, politicians and firms across Europe, chose to counter the increased competition they faced due to liberal markets and political reforms by resorting to corruption. More elections have made ever-larger funding demands on political parties; privatization has proved to be a theme park for economic crime and party profit; firms and politicians collude in many areas where EU harmonization has resulted in a net reduction in law-enforcement powers; and state-led "export promotion" efforts, especially in the armaments, infrastructure, and energy sectors, have virtually institutionalized bribery.

The assumptions that corruption and modernity are incompatible-or that Western Europe is somehow immune to corruption-simply do not hold, as Warner conveys through colorful analyses of scandals in which large corporations, politicians, and bureaucrats engage in criminal activity in order to facilitate mergers and block competition, and in which officials accept private payments for public services rendered. At the same time, the book shows the extent to which corruption is driven by the very economic and political reforms thought to decrease it.

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Between Good and Ghetto

African American Girls and Inner-City Violence

Nikki Jones

Between Good and Ghetto reflects the social world of inner city African American girls and how they manage threats of personal violence. Drawing on personal encounters, traditions of urban ethnography, Black feminist thought, gender studies, and feminist criminology, Nikki Jones provides a richly descriptive and compassionate account, revealing multiple strategies used to navigate interpersonal and gender-specific violence and how gendered dilemmas of their adolescence are reconciled.

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Beyond Cold Blood

The KBI from Ma Barker to BTK

The history of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation from the In Cold Blood killers to the BTK serial killer by the longtime director of the KBI.

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Beyond Papillon

The French Overseas Penal Colonies, 1854-1952

Stephen A. Toth

For French criminologists and colonialists of the mid-nineteenth century, the penal colonies of Guiana and New Caledonia seemed to satisfy two needs, namely, to incarcerate a growing number of criminals and to supply manpower for these developing colonies. But were these two goals not contradictory? Was the primary purpose of the penal colonies to punish or to colonize? In the prisons, inmates found means of subversion, guards resisted militaristic discipline, and camp commanders fought physicians for authority. Back in the metropole, journalistic exposés catered to the public’s fascination with the penal colonies’ horror and exoticism.

An understanding of modern France is not complete without an examination of this institution, which existed for more than a century and imprisoned more than one hundred thousand people. Stephen A. Toth invites readers to experience the prisons firsthand. Through a careful analysis of criminal case files, administrative records, and prisoner biographies, Toth reconstructs life in the penal colonies and examines how the social sciences, tropical medicine, and sensational journalism evaluated and exploited the inmates’ experiences. In exploring the disjuncture between the real and the imagined, he moves beyond mythic characterizations of the penal colonies to reveal how power, discipline, and punishment were construed and enforced in these prison outposts.

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Beyond the Schoolhouse Gate: Free Speech and the Inculcation of Values

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice, 1995 "What makes Lane's approach unique is that he weaves together different perspectives on the nature of school into a very colorful but informative and lucid tapestry that seeks the outer limits of free expression within the boundaries of the school context, always with an eye toward promoting the goal of inculcation of values, a worthy end for students and school officials alike." —Samuel M. Davis, Allen Post Professor of Law, University of Georgia *In a 1969 landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the suspension of student for protesting the Vietnam War violated the First Amendment. *In 1972, the U.S. court of appeals upheld the suspension of black high school students for protesting the playing of "Dixie" at a pep rally. *In 1986, a U.S. district court ruled that the suspension of a student for directing a vulgar gesture at one of his school teachers in a fast-food restaurant was unconstitutional. On what grounds do public school students merit First Amendment protection? These three examples illustrate the broad range of litigation that has attempted to answer this question. Robert Wheeler Lane reviews the obstacles of this important issue and suggests a mix of protection and autonomy for students. Pulling together evidence about the aims of public education, the changing legal status of children, and the values underlying freedom of expression, Lane debates the relationship between constitutional litigation and the dual pursuits of academic excellence and classroom order. Ultimately, utilizing both lower court and Supreme Court decisions, he finds that independent student expression deserves considerable constitutional protection; student expression assisted by school officials (such as school-funded student newspapers) should be subject to some control; and nonstudent expression (such as a school's selection of library books) should be left largely to the school's discretion. His conclusions suggest that in forging First Amendment protection for public school students, strongly held positions need not be extreme.

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Big Prisons, Big Dreams

Crime and the Failure of America's Penal System

Michael J. Lynch

The American prison system has grown tenfold since the 1970s, but crime rates in the United States have not decreased. This doesn't surprise Michael J. Lynch, a critical criminologist, who argues that our oversized prison system is a product of our consumer culture, the public's inaccurate beliefs about controlling crime, and the government's criminalizing of the poor. While deterrence and incapacitation theories suggest that imprisoning more criminals and punishing them leads to a reduction in crime, case studies, such as one focusing on the New York City jail system between 1993 and 2003, show that a reduction in crime is unrelated to the size of jail populations. Although we are locking away more people, Lynch explains that we are not targeting the worst offenders. Prison populations are comprised of the poor, and many are incarcerated for relatively minor robberies and violence. America's prison expansion focused on this group to the exclusion of corporate and white collar offenders who create hazardous workplace and environmental conditions that lead to deaths and injuries, and enormous economic crimes. If America truly wants to reduce crime, Lynch urges readers to rethink cultural values that equate bigger with better.

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The Black Book and the Mob

The Untold Story of the Control of Nevada's Casinos

Ronald A. Farrell and Carole Case

A tale of good and evil, of corruption and deceit, of prejudice, politics, and power, this compelling account scrutinizes the immensely lucrative Nevada gambling industry’s struggle to maintain legitimacy—or at least the appearance of it.
    Ronald A. Farrell and Carole Case tell how state regulators created the “Black Book” in the 1960s, a list of “notorious and unsavory” persons banned forever from owning, managing, or even entering casinos in the state. The regulators dramatically pursued and publicly denounced former lieutenants of Al Capone, alleged overlords of the American Mafia, nationally known professional gamblers, and major casino owners, as well as small-time bookies and hoods, reputed sports fixers, and gambling cheats. To date, thirty-eight names have been entered in the Black Book, including Sam Giancana, Anthony Spilotro, and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.
    Farrell and Case contend, however, that the denunciations were a melodrama, meant to show that the government was cleansing the city of corruption. Through the Black Book, the regulators focus public attention on “the Mob,” rather than on a multitude of competing criminal interests already in the gaming industry. The authors uncover evidence of ethnic discrimination by the regulators, including selective prosecution of Italian Americans whose notoriety fit popular Mafia stereotypes.
    The Black Book and the Mob records hearings of the regulatory commission and the voices of lawyers, government officials, casino owners, and the people named in the Black Book itself. This Las Vegas story is a rebuke to the gaming industry and a cautionary tale for many states and communities now weighing the legalization of casino gambling.

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Black White Blue

The Assassination of Patrolman James Sackett

by William Swanson

On May 22, 1970, responding to a bogus emergency call to help a pregnant woman, St. Paul patrolman James Sackett was killed by a sniper’s bullet fired from a high-powered rifle. The white officer’s assassination was the most shocking event in an era of shocking, racially charged events, punctuated by bombings at Dayton’s Department Store and elsewhere, police harassment and shootings of young black men, an alleged hijacking plot, and random acts of urban violence. a once peaceful, close-knit community, St. Paul’s summit-university neighborhood had reached a boiling point, heated by racism and rage. Award-winning journalist William Swanson masterfully walks the razor-edge between the grief and anger of a police force that lost one of its own and the deep-seated resentment and subsequent silence of a community that had many reasons not to trust the cops. Based on extensive interviews and archival research, Black White Blue recounts the details of one of the most extraordinary cold-case sagas in U.S. annals—a story featuring dozens of memorable characters, including a relentless “super cop,” an aggregation of conflicted informants, and a haunted woman who grew old with a terrible secret. The case culminates with the controversial trials, decades later, of Ronald Reed and Larry Clark. Black White Blue, is a powerful, true account of crime and punishment, time and memory, race, community, and personal relationships.

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