Crime & Law
Justice and its “place” within society are highly contested, both in terms of how they are conceptualized and how they are applied. As citizens, we frequently discuss and debate what it means to live in a just society. We lobby for law reform to seek more or better justice. We participate in protests to raise awareness of social justice. Yet, what is the actual “place” of justice in contemporary society? Drawing from several disciplines–including law, criminology, women’s studies, art, and geography–and interrogating many sites–such as provinces, courtrooms and the street–the authors critically examine law and space. In the process they raise fundamental questions about the equivalency drawn between law and justice in orthodox liberal thought.
Production, Consumption and Global Markets
For nearly a century, regimes around the world have upheld a prohibitionist stance toward narcotics. The US has led this global consensus, enforcing recognition of international narcotics conventions and laws. Vast resources are pumped into the “war on drugs.” But in practice, prohibition has been an abject failure. Narcotics use continues to rise, while technology and globalization have made a whole new range of drugs available to a vast consumer market. Where wealth and demand exist, supply continues to follow. Prohibition has criminalized social groups, impeded research into alternative medicine and disease, promoted violence and gang warfare, and impacted negatively on the environment and ultimately has failed to stem consumption and production. The alternative is a humane policy framework that recognizes the incentives to produce, traffic and consume narcotics.
Social Justice in the Age of the Market
Rampant market economics has led to violations of human rights. Koen de Feyter questions how far the international human rights system provides effective protection against the adverse effects of globalization. His innovative suggestions for improving the human rights system include rethinking the states’ obligations, creating human rights responsibilities for big companies and international financial institutions and developing human rights obligations for states beyond their own national territories. In explaining the relevance of a human rights approach for combating the downsides of globalization, he reveals the potential for a strategic alliance among human rights activists and participants in the anti-globalization and development movements.
The Westray Disaster and Its Aftermath
The “truth” behind the Westray mine disaster remains a highly contested matter. This book is a study of how the media represented the events surrounding Westray. The absence of investigative reporting in favour of sensational stories about accidents and the pain and suffering of the bereaved obscures the truth. More importantly it presents a false truth so the question, “What happened at Westray?” remains largely unanswered. The answer to the question, “Who is responsible?” has been lost in the cover-up; a cover-up aided and abetted by the news reporting.
Taking Harm Seriously
Beyond Criminology is an innovative, groundbreaking critique of conventional criminological approaches to social issues. The contributors make a broad analysis of social harm by examining the theoretical issues and then looking at harmful organizations, policies and experiences. Using this approach, the contributors show how social harm relates to social and economic inequalities that are the heart of the liberal state. Only once we have identified the causes of social harm, they argue, can we begin to formulate possible responses, whether criminological or political. Exploring a range of topics, including violence, indifference, corporate and state harms, miscarriages of justice, gender and harm, children, asylum and immigration policies, and sexuality, the contributors offer an innovative new approach that goes beyond criminology, which should be of interest to students, teachers and policymakers.
Social Activism and the Law
This book argues that law is a political resource that carries with it both opportunities and dangers for social activists. As such, activist groups must carefully navigate the contradictions within law to evaluate the strategic and tactical issues raised by law and legal institutions. Perils and Possibilities provides a guide to these issues and explores the types of questions activist groups need to ask themselves before embarking on a campaign of legal mobilization. In addition to a brief exploration of some overarching theoretical questions, Byron Sheldrick examines in a concrete and practical fashion the contradictions of rights discourse, strategic questions posed by the process of going to court and the importance of the administrative boards and tribunals for the politics of social activists. Set in the Canadian context, the book also makes use of experiences drawn from the USA and Britain.
Violence, Inequality and Law
Law’s power to criminalize–to turn a person into a criminal–is formidable. Traditional legal doctrine argues that law dispenses justice in an impartial and unbiased fashion. Critical legal theorists claim that law reproduces gender, race and class inequalities. The Power to Criminalize offers an analysis that acknowledges the tensions between these two views of law. Drawing from crown attorneys’ files on violent crime cases and interviews with defence lawyers, the authors reveal the complex ways in which discourses of masculinity, femininity, race, class and social space inform the strategies used to litigate these cases. This analysis raises questions about the prospects of challenging law to realize a more just society.
The Experiences of Young Women in Prostitution
Being Heard examines, from their own perspectives and experiences, the lives of young women sexually exploited through prostitution. Putting their voices in the centre of its analysis, the book tries to help us more fully understand the experiences of girls exploited through prostitution, the complex issues of sex trade work and the ways to best respond to the issues. Beginning with a discussion of what little we know about youth prostitution, subsequent chapters address young women’s experiences with community and government programs, issues of self-identity, health and safety concerns, experiences of violence, factors that push young women into and may draw them out of sex trade work, and the effectiveness of Canadian legislation in coming to the aid of young prostitutes.
Law and the Politics of Exclusion in Ontario
The Ontario Safe Streets Act is the first modern provincial law to prohibit a wide range of begging and squeegee work in public space. This Act is representative of a much wider set of reforms that the Ontario government has carried out in the administration of criminal justice and social welfare. Central to the neo-conservative character of these reforms has been the construction of “disorderly people,” of those portrayed as “welfare cheats,” “squeegee kids,” “aggressive beggars,” “violent youth” and “coddled prisoners.” Drawing from their expertise in law, sociology, criminology and geography, contributors to this collection make visible the role of law in the practices and logic of a government that polices “public” safety through the exclusion and punishment of some of the most vulnerable people in society. Essays in this collection critique the constitutional soundness of the Safe Streets Act. They document the everyday lives of squeegee workers, map the moral geography of the city, explore the “commodification of crime,” examine the shrinking of both the public and private spaces of the poor, and investigate the “penalty of cruelty” that now characterizes Ontario corrections policy.
Environment, Law and the State in Canada
Critical research, writing and advocacy by legal academics and practitioners, NGOs, indigenous peoples and eco-feminists has existed on a global scale since the 1960s, but not until the 1990s did criminologists begin to examine environmental crime in a more concerted way. This late entrance by criminologist has much to do with who is involved in environmental crime–namely upper strata, mostly “white” men who run corporations and state agencies and the perception of environmental crime as soft crime. There are “critical” criminologists who are attempting to enforce existing legislation and policies and/or promote public education. For these reformists, debates tend to centre around prospective strengths and weaknesses of criminal law, civil law and self-regulating and other methods of policing and protecting ecosystems. Other criminologists examine how the “toxic” or “criminogenic” nature of capitalism enables states to facilitate and perpetrate environmental harms with virtual impunity. Toxic Criminology is the work of an assemblage of academics, activists, politicians and legal practitioners, all of whom harbour a wide range of interests and involvements in the study of, and resistance against, environmental wrongdoing. Individually and collectively, the authors address theoretical, politico-economic, legal, cultural and human dimensions of crimes and harms against the Canadian environment.