Tag Archives: controlling crime

Sociology on TV – Coppers – aired November 2010

Danny Mack - a walking warning about the consequences of long term heroine use

The first episode of this series provides a very informative insight into the lives of custody officers- in Medway, with the star criminal character, ‘Danny Mack’, coming from my home town of Strood!

The episode demonstrates how half a dozen individuals locked up for mainly drug and public order offences have been in and out of police custody since they were ten – you get to see the photographic records of some of them over the last decade. Many of the offenders actually have a good relationshp with the police officers – and being in and out of custody seams to be part and parcel of their yearly routine. It would appear that for these repeat offenders being in police custody is just all too easy – they appear pretty well looked after and engage in lively, tit-for tat banter with their guardians while in temporary captivity. 

At the end of the day the video demonstrates how the criminal justice system is extremely ineffective in deterring people from crime – as one of the inmates says at one point when asked whether he might ever turn away from crime ‘ What’s to stop me, ‘I mean, it’s hardly scary in there is it!’

The zenith moment – Danny Mack’s poem about prison officers – Some may see this work as providing an empassioned, empathetic account of the lived-experience of being subjected to the whims of petit- bureacratic personalities while incarcerated. However, an alternative reading may be that it’s just shit.

‘Everytime I see you cunts I get the fuckin’ pox,
I bet you send your kids to school, the fuckin’ sweat box.’

Anyway, listen and enjoy…and empathise with me… this is one of the reasons why I am so glad I moved away from Medway….

Thanks to bessoyo30, whoever that is, from youtube, I bet the original version won’t be up there for much longer (C4 will probably remove it due to copy).

Thinking Allowed – Supermax

Supermax prisons are on the increase the United States – these are prisons where prisoners are kept in extreme solitary confinement – sometimes for years at a time. In this podcast Criminologist Sharon Shalev provides some details some of the findings from her latest book – which draws on her access to two supermax prisons and is based on in-depth interviews with prison officials, prisoners and others.

Shalev notes that there are about 30 000 prisoners in solitary confinement in the US and 44 states have supermax prisons.

The increase in supermax is indicative of the ‘popular punitiveness’ identifitied by Criminologists such as Robert Reiner and David Garland – Shalev acknowledges that the increase was correlated with the rise of conservative (neo-liberal) power in the US in 1990s. See also my previous blog entry that summarises Richard Wilkinson’s work on how more unequal countries (like America) get more punitive.

According to Shalev, what is also interesting is how we increasingly don’t care about the negative long term effects on the mental health of these prisoners. Supermax signifies that the idea of prison is moving towards pure retribution rather than punishment. Could this also be a consequence of 30 years of neo-liberalism? – That there has been a cultural shift to a harsher ‘I don’t care’ attitude towards other people? Sociologists such as Reiner would agree with this – which is an extension of  Marxist (David Gordon) ‘dog eat dog’ theory.

I quite fancy reading her books btw – if someone buys it me for Christmas it’d be much appreciated, ta.

High crime areas by GPS


A technological innovation from the Americans –

“For just $19.95 our easy to install GPS software addon will enable your GPS to alert you of approaching “high crime areas” as you travel throughout the U.S.  You will instantly hear and see alerts on your GPS unit, providing you with the knowledge to travel unfamiliar areas safely.

Zygmunt Bauman would have a field day analysing this! – Mobile inverted situational crime prevention – instead of preventing criminals coming to you, you prevent yourself from inadvertantly stumbling across the criminals. Obvious how its just an extension of the fortress city mentality too – increasing segretation between rich ands poor while reinforcing negative images of high crime areas – you know – the ones full of poor ethnic minorities.

From the web site - note the ethnicity of the 'jackers'

I had the following thoughts

1. It must go mental in Washington – unless of course it’s just measuring street crime.

2. I wonder if it correlates the crime rates with indicies of social deprivation

3. I wonder if you get to programme in your own personal details – age/ gender/ ethnicity/ gang affiliation – so it can calculate the actual risk of your being a victim more effectively.

4. I wonder if it tells you what percentage of black and latino men are in jail from the local area –

5. As with any technology – it can be subverted – perhaps in future releases they could have a ‘corporate crime’ info bar – everytime your iphone or whatever comes accross a branch of a ‘dirty company’ like Mcdonalds or Nike you get some ‘dirt facts’ on the company.