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Crime Control as Industry Paperback – Oct 25 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (Oct. 25 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415234875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415234870
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #355,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book is a warning against recent developments in the field of crime control Read the first page
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By A Customer on July 7 2002
Format: Paperback
The heavily revised third edition (2000) of Crime Control As Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style is an essential guide to understanding the incarceration boom and considering how we can turn it around. The first book of Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie, Limits to Pain, argued that the criminal justice system is in fact a pain delivery system, with the size of the system controlled not by the number of committed acts labeled as crimes but by the amount of pain that a society is willing to impose on its citizens. Crime Control as Industry expands upon that theme, and tracks how an industry has arisen to manage crime. And like any industry, the crime control industry is not about to say on its own: "Stop, we have enough of the market. We don't need to grow."

Christie does an important job providing an international perspective to incarceration, comparing disparate incarceration rates between otherwise similar European countries. Hope can be found in his story of Finland becoming accustomed to a high level of pain delivery and then deciding in the 1970s that its incarceration rate associated the country more with its enemy the Soviet Union than with its political allies in Western Europe. Finland's incarceration rate quickly dropped from the highest in Europe, to the second lowest after Iceland at 54 per 100,000.

Christie traces the extent to which crime control has come to dominate the economic structure by absorbing the unemployed into the roles of keeper and kept and then supplying services to each. Limited by space, let me highlight two of Christie's many sharp observations.
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By OT on Dec 21 2002
Format: Paperback
I was surprised to see this little softcover book being so expensive. But dont judge this one by the cover. Packed with data and research, it is truly an eye-opener. Excellent book, easy reading, I recommend anybody to read it, anybody who is interested in a gentler softer approach to social problems, rather than the current self perpetuating and populist hardliner approach. I do have a few comments on some of the arguments but they are minor in the larger context, which is Nils Christie's fact finding mission. The bottom line is that the prison industry has become a powerful entity, never mentioned in the general media.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Essential Analysis of the Prison Crisis July 7 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The heavily revised third edition (2000) of Crime Control As Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style is an essential guide to understanding the incarceration boom and considering how we can turn it around. The first book of Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie, Limits to Pain, argued that the criminal justice system is in fact a pain delivery system, with the size of the system controlled not by the number of committed acts labeled as crimes but by the amount of pain that a society is willing to impose on its citizens. Crime Control as Industry expands upon that theme, and tracks how an industry has arisen to manage crime. And like any industry, the crime control industry is not about to say on its own: "Stop, we have enough of the market. We don't need to grow."

Christie does an important job providing an international perspective to incarceration, comparing disparate incarceration rates between otherwise similar European countries. Hope can be found in his story of Finland becoming accustomed to a high level of pain delivery and then deciding in the 1970s that its incarceration rate associated the country more with its enemy the Soviet Union than with its political allies in Western Europe. Finland's incarceration rate quickly dropped from the highest in Europe, to the second lowest after Iceland at 54 per 100,000.

Christie traces the extent to which crime control has come to dominate the economic structure by absorbing the unemployed into the roles of keeper and kept and then supplying services to each. Limited by space, let me highlight two of Christie's many sharp observations. First Christie argues that the applicable political economy to describe prisons is not slavery, but of the old work-houses, where the objective was not profit for the State, but for private parties to relieve the State of its unwanted population at the lowest cost possible.

The second sharp observation is that justice itself has been mechanized to cope with the influx of raw materials and remove a democratic restraint upon growth. Mandatory minimums and the sentencing guidelines have served to remove discretion from judges, turning them into little more than secretaries for the legislature. While judges are in a unique position to learn details about victims and the accused; and could adopt sentences to match the needs of the offender and the community; that takes time. Time costs money, and the industry's conveyor must be kept moving, hence the removal of judge's discretion.

In the United States, the combined populations in prison, on parole and on probation exceed the incarceration rate of the old gulags. Christie's excellent book asks: Do we want a societal culture with this much depersonalized pain delivery?
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A critical view of today's penal system April 15 1998
By cj.goransson@swipnet.se - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In most "civilized" societies there's a great deal of discussion going on concerning crime and what should happen to the ones committing the them. This book should make people think twice the next time someone is calling for "a stronger policeforce" or "longer sentences". Christie shows us that there are strong business interests that need to be protected. My only complaint about this book is that sometimes I wish the author would go deeper into some issues. On the whole this is a book well worth reading.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
insight into crime control March 31 2007
By Margaret Magnus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Crime Control as Industry

I've had this book on my shelf for 10 years or so. I didn't throw it out because a friend who I very much respect gave it to me. But I also didn't read it because I am so sick and tired of the European superiority trip. A young man I met once is about to be sentenced to life in prison, so I opened Christie in the vague hope that there might be some uprightness and depth of insight to be found there. I was pleasantly surprised. This is not another book about how stupid America is and how Europe is so super qualified to fix everything.

Christie has thought deeply about the nature of crime, the function of the judicial in society and its relationship to different cultures and societal institutions. One senses that he has spent a lifetime coming to a point of clarity within himself about what the relevant parameters are by which to evaluate and understand a situation. There's no redundancy or fluff here. He has made every effort to present the material succinctly, clearly and objectively, but also humanely.

The basic premise, as I understand it, is this. The Holocaust in Germany and the Gulags of Eastern Europe are a natural outgrowth of the Western rational mindset. This mindset in essential ways governs how Western democracies increasingly think about crime and the judiciary. The increase in the number of prisoners per capita, which is especially obvious in the US, is not related to an increase in crime, and it is not about either rehabilitation or punishment. He shows this quite convincingly with statistics. Rather, he argues, it is about control of the populations within a society which are not `productive'. This, for example, is why there is such an emphasis on the drug war. The largest class of American incarcerations are drug related, hence not violent crimes and not crimes in which one person harms another.

By incarcerating these unpredictable groups of people, they are legally enslaved, and thereby incorporated into a silent industry -- that of the prison system -- which is very lucrative and productive, which in fact is big business. In fundamental respects, the modern Western prison system resembles the Gulags in their philosophy, mode of operation and function within society. Our system of government is based on checks and balances. The competition of the free market also imposes natural constraints on excesses. However, Christie sees no natural constraints which would impose checks on this development toward Gulag-style crime control within Western society. The economy, the political apparatus and the voice of the majority would all tend to increase it, rather than check it.

What Christie regards as the root of the problem is a disconnect between ordinary down home morality and common sense vs. the judiciary. He's not against capitalism or the rational mindset per se, but feels there are domains in which they do and don't serve the end of a good society. Village courts have their disadvantages, but when Curly in the musical Oklahoma is let off scot free for the murder of Judd, it's because the whole town knows what really went down. Instead of Oklahoma justice, we now have sentencing manuals. The jury is only allowed to decide whether or not the crime took place, and the legislature has taken away the judge's leeway over the sentencing. All the mitigating circumstances and even common sense must be ignored in the interest of a sort of managerial, rational justice, whose purpose is neither to rehabilitate the criminal nor to ease the life of the plaintiff, but merely to control unpredictable populations. The gowns of the judges are replaced by business suits. Courtrooms are appointed and arranged like conference rooms. And the machine churns away.

I don't agree with everything he says. For example, I believe the Founding Fathers did build in stop gaps against the tyranny of the masses, and I feel there are people who are simply mean. But Christie's book leaves the reader with a much deeper understanding of the problem and without any emotional manipulation, motivates the reader to want to do something about it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Read this book! Dec 21 2002
By OT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was surprised to see this little softcover book being so expensive. But dont judge this one by the cover. Packed with data and research, it is truly an eye-opener. Excellent book, easy reading, I recommend anybody to read it, anybody who is interested in a gentler softer approach to social problems, rather than the current self perpetuating and populist hardliner approach. I do have a few comments on some of the arguments but they are minor in the larger context, which is Nils Christie's fact finding mission. The bottom line is that the prison industry has become a powerful entity, never mentioned in the general media.
I am pleased with the purchase July 27 2014
By Mark Humphrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book arrived in a timely manner. I am pleased with the purchase.


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