America's contradictory attitudes toward crime: repellent danger versus media glamorization
The Politics of Street Crime
Criminal Process and Cultural Obsession
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Stuart A. Scheingold
Americans find street crime terrifying and repellent. Yet we vicariously seek it out in virtually all of our media: books, newspapers, television, films, and the theatre. Stuart Scheingold confronts this cultural contradiction and asks why street crime is generally regarded in the trivializing and punitive images of cops and robbers that attribute crime to the willful acts of flawed individuals rather than to the structural shortcomings of a flawed society. In his case study of the police and criminal courts in the community he calls "Cedar City," a medium-sized city in the Western United States, Scheingold examines the effects of this cultural contradiction and these punitive predispositions on politics and policy making.
"Scheingold is wonderful in piecing together the complex set of variables which affect decision making by cops, prosecutors, and judges. And his synthesis of these variables paints the best picture I know of the complicated ways in which legal, policy, and political variables interact."
Read a review from Law & Politics Book Review, Volume 1.7 (October 1991).
Tables and Figures
1. Street Crime, Criminology, and the State
2. The Politicization of Street Crime
3. Policy, Politics, and the Police
4. Policy, Politics, and the Criminal Courts
5. Politics, Criminology, and Crisis