Making Crime Pay Challenges The Dominant View Essay

1008 Words May 11th, 2016 null Page
Katherine Beckett’s book Making Crime Pay challenges the dominant view that the increase in incarceration, particularly of young Black men, seen throughout the last 30 plus years has been due to a response to public concern about crime, changing demographics, and an increase in violent crime that needed to be fixed. Instead, Beckett forces us to examine the discursive and political nature of the decisions that led to tough on crime policies and in effect mass incarceration. As she summarizes, “The notion that the desire for punishment is ubiquitous and unequivocal ignores the complexity of cultural attitudes and the situation and political factors that shape their expression.”
Beckett examines the important role that race played in this process, particularly in the discourse surrounding law and order. Politicians utilized racialized language to manufacture a fear of crime and tap into the anxieties of whites in the post-civil rights period of the 1960s. Political goals and the control of the public discourse through mass media created the public perception that crime was a major issue and politicians and elites then used this perception to further push their agenda.
Within the spirit of queer analysis, Beckett looks at both material and discursive forces that shaped these devastating and discriminatory outcomes. Material conditions included the disappearance of many well-paid jobs for low-skilled workers and the fact that crime rates were increasing in the 1960s.…

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