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  • Crime and Punishment in Contemporary Greece: International Comparative Perspectives ed. by Leonidas K. Cheliotis and Sappho Xenakis
  • Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis
Leonidas K. Cheliotis and Sappho Xenakis, editors. Crime and Punishment in Contemporary Greece: International Comparative Perspectives. Oxford: Verlag Peter Lang. 2011. Pp. xx + 615. 12 figures, 8 tables. Paperback $86.95.

The collection edited by Leonidas K. Cheliotis and Sappho Xenakis, the first such English-language volume of its kind, aims at bringing together the criminological work of Greek scholars and subject matter specialists from other Western countries in order to impart a comprehensive picture on crime and criminal justice in Greece. Drawing on a rich variety of approaches, the book principally aims, as stated in the Introduction to the volume by Cheliotis and Xenakis, to fill in an important gap in the literature by providing a systematic, but not necessarily exhaustive, introduction to issues of crime and punishment in contemporary Greece. To this effect, the editors choose an extremely useful comparative methodology. Topics are first discussed by specialists on Greece and then commented upon by international experts. The chosen methodology allows for an in-depth analysis of the interaction between the national and the global and, by placing the Greek criminal system in the context of much wider international and global trends, provides a much needed corrective to stereotypical discourses that insist one-sidedly on a real or imaginary “Greek exceptionalism.” [End Page 159]

The collection is divided into three sections. The first deals with the experience of crime, the second with topical crime issues, and the third with reactions to crime. Overall, it comprises fifteen primary chapters and accompanying commentaries. The contributions to the collection are diverse and of high quality. Opening Part I, Cheliotis and Xenakis introduce a number of core themes on crime, fear of crime, and punitiveness, and propose a theoretical framework in which to understand them. In their commentary, Jonathan Jackson, Monica Gerber, and Carolyn Côté-Lussier provide a comparison with the UK and suggest that ideological positions are an important explanans of the variance in public feelings of safety, trust in the police, and punitiveness. The chapter by Giannis Panousis focuses on media representations of crime and criminal justice. Commenting on Panousis’s chapter, Robert Reiner makes a useful comparison with the British and North American experience. Next, Vassilis Karydis addresses in a characteristically lucid and informative manner the politically sensitive issue of the relation between immigration and crime. In his commentary, Didier Bigo places the narrative transforming the migrant into a potential enemy in a wider discursive context, which he terms “the (in) security continuum.” In the closing chapter of Part I, Ioannis Papageorgiou provides an overview of studies on the relation between youth and crime. In his commentary, Cheli-otis observes that, despite the expansion of pertinent research on the subject, the role of the family appears to have been overlooked to a large extent.

Part II of the collection starts with a chapter by Effi Lambropoulou on corruption, which, after presenting the pertinent legal framework, surveys empirical and theoretical analyses of the phenomenon. In his commentary, Peter Bratsis challenges the view that Greek corruption can play a role either in understanding the particular dynamics of Greek society or in explaining the current crisis. In the following chapter, Joanna Tsiganou canvasses the historical unfolding of drug control policies, insisting that, since its first introduction under the influence of international developments, the prohibitory system of regulation has remained essentially unchanged. In his commentary, Trevor Bennett argues that drug policy is the result of the combined interaction of criminalization and medicalization, while expressing some skepticism about evidence-based approaches. Next, Sappho Xenakis discusses the interplay between organized crime and political violence, highlighting the politics surrounding official efforts to characterize these challenges as a single problem. Vincenzo Ruggiero’s commentary sheds light on the Greek experience by way of a critical examination of international security discourses, tying together organized crime and political violence. A second commentary by Margaret E. Beare stresses the importance of US influence by comparing the Greek experience with that of Canada. In their chapter on sex, trafficking, and crime policy, Georgios Papanicolaou and Paraskevi Bouklis trace the emergence...