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By Stuart Scheingold

americans locate road crime terrifying and repellent. but we vicariously search it out in almost all of our media: books, newspapers, tv, motion pictures, and the theatre. Stuart Scheingold confronts this cultural contradiction and asks why highway crime is usually seemed within the trivializing and punitive photos of law enforcement officials and robbers that characteristic crime to the willful acts of wrong contributors instead of to the structural shortcomings of a unsuitable society. In his case examine of the police and legal courts in the neighborhood he calls "Cedar City," a medium-sized urban within the Western usa, Scheingold examines the consequences of this cultural contradiction and those punitive predispositions on politics and coverage making.

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Extra info for The Politics of Street Crime: Criminal Process and Cultural Obsession

Sample text

That consonance is, however, more apparent than real. It begins and ends with a superficial affinity between volitional criminology's obsession with punishing pathological individuals and the crime control model's preemptory treatment of suspects and defendants. The more basic truth is that the values of both crime control and due process work against structural responses to crime. So long as the focus remains on the processing of individual cases, as it most decidedly does in both models, volitional criminology is ipso facto privileged.

76 In short, while the punitive tone of volitional criminology may be moderated at the local level, there is no discernible movement in structural directions. This is the message of the Cedar City experience, which is presented in the following chapters. Copyrighted Material 2 The Politicization of Street Crime There are good reasons to believe that street crime has been a salient political issue in the United States since the mid-1960s. Survey data reveal increasing levels of public fear of crime as well as a persistent inclination to see crime as one of the country's most important political issues.

The payoff system mentioned in Chapter 1 was, for example, the key to the liberal reform movement that altered the character of city politics. The racial tensions stemming in part from allegations of racial bias in policing practices as well as in the hiring and promotion of police officers also had broad political ramifications. But street crime per se was only modestly and sporadically politicized despite a significant number of efforts to do so throughout the period. The patterns of politicization in Cedar City also cast serious doubt on the reassuring consensual democratic pluralism that is Copyrighte'7a 'Material 30 The Politicization of Street Crime at the heart of Wilson's analysis.

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