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The Forum > Article Comments > 'The Innocents' - judgment in art, law and deviancy > Comments

'The Innocents' - judgment in art, law and deviancy : Comments

By Katherine Biber, published 13/10/2005

Katherine Biber examines criminology and the social labelling of the falsely accused.

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A good article Katherine,

Of course DNA evidence can be used to accurately convict someone also, but of importance, would be the large number of people either in jail or on probation in the US. Much of this is from drug arrests, (which is associated with a drug culture), but this high rate of jailing must have meant a high throughput through the court system, and various courts could have been operating on expediency principles, rather than justice principles, with people being convicted if they simply looked the part.

However from various accounts, males of all socio-economic backgrounds and ages are now complaining of being stereotyped and discriminated against in the US. Through terms including “Stupid White Male”, “Disney Dad”, "Deadbeat Dad", “Boys are Stupid” etc, general demonisation of males is becoming quite widespread in the US (although I could be called misogynist for saying this).
Posted by Timkins, Thursday, 13 October 2005 5:45:38 PM
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It was with great interest that I read your article Katherine. The topic is extremely important, yet I notice by the public response in the number of comments that they appear to take little interest. More is the pity.

Present day attitudes in general towards crime, law and justice are sadly very shallow. Justice seems to be disappearing rapidly, being replaced by revenge. I believe this is due to politicians (and their lapdog media) creating an exaggerated culture of fear and victim-hood within the community - what you identified correctly as the "contemporary fear of crime". This then gives them the platform to rule with more power, removing rights from individuals "in the best interests of the community". It being seen as "get tough" and "lock 'em up". This deeply concerns me, for the system of justice within a community is reflective of the quality of life within that community.

I noted yesterday in The Times that Blair's Labour government has a shocking problem with prisons being all but full - a crisis for which they have no answer, except to start releasing people with tagging.

Crime, law and justice is a deep and fascinating study about which I humbly suggest that you might write more. Particularly with respect to innocent inmates, sanity and insanity - I have a pet theory that nobody who commits a crime is mentally "sane" at the time they commit the crime - and also the history of discounted sentences and leniency displayed by courts to women.

Many thanks.
Posted by Maximus, Friday, 14 October 2005 10:54:37 AM
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I agree a good piece however our attitudes towards crime are the same as our attitudes toward heath. People want the symptoms fixed not the cause, preventive medicine is as cost effective as crime prevention but strange we do seem to want to invest in either.
Posted by Kenny, Friday, 14 October 2005 10:59:55 AM
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Thanks for the well written article. I feel that the response has been minimal due to the fact that many Australians feel "it could not happen here" - if my memory serves me correctly, there have been instances of innocent people incarcerated for a crime they did not commit.
In the USA, the racial compartmentalising of people is historic and seems to be gathering momentum with a revenge quota added to the mix. The fact that this is happening is largely being ignored by the media in the USA, and very few people are aware of the situation. Oprah had a show highlighting the situation with some of the ex prisoners in the audience. A group of law students and lawyers (not sure of the group) are working tirelessly in examining many cases.
Our society is leaning more towards the old ritual of watching a beheading with the people cheering, and standing there knitting. We are watching reality, and the rise in reality TV highlights how we love the revenge brought down on those we do not like or feel comfortable about. It would not surprise me if the subject of the death penalty raises its ugly head again in the Australian psyche, especially if the person is from another land, and including religions such as islam.
Posted by tinkerbell1952, Friday, 14 October 2005 2:47:01 PM
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Life quality indices, for Crime Prevention and a new platform for Mental Health, in Australia, through socio-cultural development, is the compelling economic controversy, at this time. This is because crime and mental health statistics are inter-related depicting overwhelming hardship to civilians, where there is a lack of appropriate social-resource-structures, to deal with social-break-down.

This is presenting increased “risk” to all Australians, while there is low-capacity, to address social-ill.

Under-reported, through proper "surveillance", is the amount of false data-reporting within government itself.

The numbers of people being falsely arrested, falsely detained or misdiagnosed, through wrongful case assessment for mental illness and crime, is highly critical.

Automated "structural violence" is being forced onto civilians, and is openly legitimated by a culture of indolence occurring nation-wide, where conformity among government officials to be less effective, stems from a sterilisation in poor leadership ethic in the workplace.

Research reflects non-transparency is a major factor contributing to social apathy and civilian distrust toward government agencies, whose restricting "gaze" is being consecrated by cultural-denial, regardless of the development in progressive policies, by the government, to problem-solve this depletion.

We require models that screen the nature of this social "disturbance", to address elements under-lying CAUSE, in Mental Health and Criminology.

As Mill himself might have quoted; "Actuarial criminology doesn’t seek to discover the causes of crime. It is interested in avoidance and dispersal." I believe that the fear "to do something" rests with the individuals who make up the workforce, within the system, to face the public on a domestic platform. The "fight-flee" paradigm is systematically enforced by ill-skilled mainstream workers, doctors, police, lawyers, politicians, official care-organisations, teachers, employment agencies, training-bodies (to name a few) who fail to action long-term integrated policies, that are socially constructive, for the benefit of the tax-payers.

As the system continues to dis-own it's own existence of "silo politics" we all become “at risk” because the…“surveillance machine waits to catch us in the act. And while it waits, it captures us anyway."

This cause, is a breakdown in "collective responsibility" in "collective securities" against terror - violence and all forms of crime.
Posted by miacat, Sunday, 16 October 2005 11:05:11 AM
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I don’t know of the UK prison system, but prisons in the US are now like slave labour camps, that operate for profits. The prison system has become a major industry.

“the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000.

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.

Due to DNA testing, a number of wrongly convicted prisoners have been released (often with no compensation), but many innocent prisoners remain behind, or there are prisoners who have received harsh sentences for minimal crimes. They will likely be in jail for long terms, working as a type of slave labour for minimal wages. This jailing was mainly carried out on black or Hispanic males in the past, but from accounts, it is now being extended to white males, so as to keep some type of balance, and overcome accusations of racial discrimination.

There is minimal justice incorporated into the system, it is mainly designed on expediency principles to keep up with the demand for labour in the prisons.
Posted by Timkins, Sunday, 16 October 2005 9:11:25 PM
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