The Punishment Imperative Analysis

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Throughout the semester, we have repeatedly discussed statistics regarding current crime and incarceration rates. In comparison to previous rates, from earlier decades, it is clear that society’s viewpoint on crime has changed significantly. Beginning in the early 1970s, the United States initiated a more punitive criminal justice system (1). In The Punishment Imperative, authors Todd R. Clear and Natasha A. Frost created a concept for the reasoning behind this mass incarceration. Referred to as the “Punishment Imperative,” its basis for reasoning focused on the symbolic image that crime held in society; meaning, as crime rates grew, the societal fear for basic safety began to emerge. As a result, addressing these issues, crime and the fear …show more content…
The first characteristic is that they, “take place around a pressing social problem, one that so galvanizes public attention that it calls for a transformative kind of action, something that turns the status quo on its head” (48). This is clear when examining the Punishment Imperative concept, as the fear of crime became a major social problem. As crime rates increased, “as high as 8 percent a year or higher,” public distress arose, which demanded a reform (4). The second characteristic is that there is a “coalescence of political will and public enthusiasm for a ‘new approach’” (49). In response to the rise in crime, President Richard Nixon initiated the War on Crime. The war on crime is a topic we discussed in class as being a direct result of mass incarceration. This political war emphasized crime control as a federal priority. Lastly, the third characteristic defines a grand social experiment as “the adoption of a new, largely unproven strategy for a high-priority social problem based on a reformulated understanding of the problem” (49). This factor is the basis of the reason Punishment Imperative is considered an experiment. Political figures typically approach social problems with the intention of resolving them by enacting laws that favor what the majority of society demands. In essence, “merely passing laws that enact the new strategy abates …show more content…
The agenda of the manifest objective is to “reduce crime by imposing legal control and social order” (129). This is present when examining statistics and policy implications because they had a direct impact on the increase of incarceration rates and the level of criminalization of certain offenses. Thus far, this objective has not been successful because, “if [imposing legal control and social order was successful] crime and fear of crime would drop” (129). For example, when examining the War on Drugs, it is evident that though legal control and social order are imposed, people continue to commit drug crimes. Overall, the manifest objective argues that individuals do not commit crimes because they fear the consequences of their

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