Category: Sociology of Law, Crime and Deviance

An Interview with the American Society of Criminology’s 2018 Student Paper Award Winners

The American Society of Criminology (ASC)’s annual Gene Carte Student Paper Competition acknowledges full-time students’ exceptional contributions to the field of criminology, awarding winners with prize money and an opportunity to present their work at the society’s annual conference. Applications for the 2019 contest are now open. Having earned her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Kristina Thompson Garrity is now a doctoral student in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri –...

Risking safety and rights: online sex work, crimes and ‘blended safety repertoires’

Like all areas of life, the sex industry has been massively affected by the dominance of the internet and digital technologies which now is the main mechanism for advertising, marketing and organizing how sex is sold. In our project, Beyond the Gaze, there has been some intriguing findings which tell sociologists a lot more about the practices of online sex workers. Notably we found, as reported in the British Journal of Sociology, that the internet makes sex work safer. Primarily...

Sociology Research Led a US State to Abolish the Death Penalty

The Chronicle of Higher Education this week reported that when the Washington State Supreme Court abolished the death penalty this month, it was primarily because of the work of sociologist, Professor Katherine Beckett. On Thursday, 11th October 2018 the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the death penalty violates the Washington State constitution‘s prohibition on ‘cruel punishment.’ In its ruling, the Court cited research by University of Washington Center for Human Rights Faculty Associate Prof. Katherine Beckett, and Lecturer Heather Evans, who conducted the...

Celebrating the XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, 15-21 July 2018

The XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology is taking place 15-21 July 2018, in Toronto Canada. The theme of the congress is Power, Violence and Justice: Reflections, Responses and Responsibilities and aims to focus on how scholars, researchers, policy makers, professionals and activists across the disciplines can contribute to our understanding of power, violence and justice. To celebrate this diverse, multidisciplinary Congress, we are pleased to bring together a collection of content from journals across the social sciences, including sociology,...

A Safer and More Just Society: Policy and Projections of the 1967 President’s Crime Commission Report

The past year marked the 50th anniversary of the report by the U.S. President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. The Commission, chaired by Nicholas Katzenbach, included 19 commissioners and featured now-famous criminologists Lloyd Ohlin (who served as an associate director of the Commission’s staff) and Alfred Blumstein, the staff-director of science and technology. The Commission’s goal was seemingly straightforward: to create recommendations for federal, state, and local governments that could lead to “a safer and more just...

The Dock on Trial: Courtroom Design and the Presumption of Innocence

A recent article in the Journal of Law and Society examines the place of the criminal dock in courtroom design. Courtrooms may appear to embody immemorial tradition, an impression reinforced by the use of arcane rituals and archaic costumes. On closer inspection, however, courtroom designs can be seen to respond to contemporary influences – pressures of time and budgets, changing attitudes to human rights, security fears, and the interests of professional groups. Where different participants sit in the criminal courtroom...

Dear Progressive Friends: Do You Actually Care About Criminal Justice Reform?

  My Facebook newsfeed is filled with petitions to remove Judge Perksy, “the Stanford Rape judge”, off the bench. And I am pissed. Here is a judge who listens to a criminal defendant’s story and considers it in sentencing – doing exactly what a judge should do, and progressive America is up in arms about it! Not only did Judge Perksy order an individualized sentence that considered mitigating factors, he offers the same, holistic consideration to the accused in his...

Corruption, Formal and Informal

In a 2014 review article for Sociology Compass, David Jancsics outlined a ‘minimal consensus’ on what constitutes corruption, drawn from his survey of literature on corruption in sociology, economics, organizational studies, political science and anthropology. The four poles of this consensus, Jancsics suggests, are that corruption is the “informal/illegal and secret exchange of formally allocated resources”; that “at least one corrupt party has to have formal membership/affiliation or at least a contractual relation with the organization from which the resources...

Mass Media Depictions of Black and White Crime

The depiction of crime in fictional mass media occurs differently for people depending on the color of their skin and what this color has come to symbolize in such a complex system of race, ethnicity, and stratification in the United States.

To What Is A Prisoner Entitled?

The New York Times recently published an article about one of Norway’s maximum security prisons, Halden Fengsel – i.e. the “world’s most humane” prison.  The article doesn’t seem real.  Flowers, barley, open fields, live cows.  Since 1998, Norway’s sentencing has focused on rehabilitation.  This particular prison model – one that is designed from its inception for rehabilitation – was the first of its kind in Norway.  Even I, with my bright-eyed naiveté and mid-20s progressive agenda can’t help – just...

Festivus for the rest of us

For the second year, Florida hosts a variety of religious displays in the rotunda of the state capitol.  This year, for the first time, the Satanic Temple erected their seasonal exhibition of an angel falling from Heaven into a fiery pit.  The Sataic Temple presentation complements a Christian nativity scene as well as other anti-religion and atheist displays with seasonal depictions including a “Festivus” pole constructed from Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans and a Flying Spaghetti Monster with the sign that says, “A...

It's Time to Discuss: Race, Police Misconduct, and Social Change

  I have been reading the most recent posts on Sociology Lens and I was surprised to see that there has not been a post on the recent grand jury decision in not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. For weeks, a large portion of news coverage has been on the death of the unarmed 18-year-old black teen. Then Wednesday, a grand jury declined to indict another white police officer,...

Mothering on the Margins: legislating first environments and the demand for maternal accountability

    “You put me in charge of Medicaid…”, the vice president of Arizona’s Republican Party and former state senator, Russell Pearce quipped on his weekly radio broadcast The Russell Pearce Show “the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants or tubal ligations”.  Medicaid is a program designed to provide health-related services for people who cannot afford healthcare in the private sector.  As Amanda Kennedy of Sociology Lens points out vividly here, “being valued as a parent is...

The Economist Twist

      If you operate in a world of “market forces” well, then you should probably leave the social research to the social scientists.  An August 23rd commentary in the Science and Technology section of the Economist magazine anonymously summarized an elegantly designed longitudinal quasi-experimental study in less than 500 words.  Their summary concluded with two very basic possibilities (because as we know the range of human possibility is exactly two!) to explain the correlation between criminality and socio-economic...

The Local Face of a Global Epidemic

  In my last posting, I wrote about my concerns as I prepared to travel abroad to volunteer for a NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal. Today, I have settled in and completed three days of my volunteer assignment. In the past few days, I have learned about trafficking in one of the most powerful ways possible, through day-to-day interaction with survivors of the human trafficking trade.

Nation’s Latest Drug Scare, Heroin is Back

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman triggered a national awareness that heroin had cycled back as a prominent drug in the United States. His death brought forth questions that challenged many people’s notions of a drug user—poor and unsuccessful. Many people asked how a person who had so much could get addicted to heroin. The reality is that Hoffman was one of many people throughout the United States using heroin. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health,...