I do not accept the common usage of the term “crime.” Why? Crime is not solely the violation of legal codes. It encompasses behavior that violates human rights. But beyond the legal understandings, crime shatters relationships, both social – including political and economic – and interpersonal.
Asar Imhotep Amen aka Troy Thomas
Substance abuse and prostitution, activities defined as against the law, certainly impact the lives and the rights of others but could be addressed more effectively outside the criminal justice system. Crime is a relative matter that changes with the disposition of legislative bodies.
Homicide is typically considered a crime unless the perpetrator acted in self-defense, by reason of insanity, or “in the line of duty” as a member of a police force, a legal execution team or a military body. Indeed, soldiers might be criminally liable for refusing to kill on order – or for refusing to register with selective service.
It is considered criminal behavior to lie under oath, but otherwise lying is lawful for everyone from presidents to common folk. It is illegal to speak about classified documents, and it is illegal not to speak before grand juries – unless the speaking would involve self-incrimination, in which case it becomes legal not to speak (unless one has been granted immunity from prosecution, in which case it becomes illegal not to speak!).
In short, everything from killing (or refusing to kill) to speaking (or refusing to speak) is or is not a crime, depending on the widest range of circumstances. So divorced is civil law from moral reflection that we barely blink when presidents somberly intone that we have to stop violence in America, while as a nation “we” spend thousands of dollars a minute building bombs.
Posted by copwatch | Fri, 09/21/2012 - 10:56pm story
Traditionally American society has identified anti-social behavior by way of violent behavior. Sociable people will be willing to talk and mediate through problems with each other rather than come to blows in private meetings or on the streets.
Posted by copwatch | Thu, 08/23/2012 - 12:32am story
Police massacre striking miners by Abayomi Azikiwe, Aug 22, 2012
Aug. 20 — Striking platinum miners have defied Lonmin Platinum PLC’s back to work orders and continue their job action in Marikana, South Africa, despite a horrific police massacre and threats of termination. This is the British-based, multibillion-dollar firm’s latest ultimatum to the mineworkers, who walked off their jobs on Aug. 10 to protest low salaries and poor working conditions.
On Aug. 16, police opened fire with automatic weapons on hundreds of striking miners, killing 34 workers and wounding 78 others. They failed to disperse from a hill near the mining facility, which is located outside Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma declared a week of mourning. The South African people have been in a state of shock and outrage since a week of violence culminated with the police massacre of the striking miners.
On Aug. 18, family members of the slain, wounded and arrested miners demonstrated near the Lonmin facilities, demanding information on the fate of their loved ones.
The authorities also arrested 259 miners. Some appeared in court on Aug.20, when they were remanded to stay in custody and a hearing was set for Aug. 27. Other arrested workers have not been located.
Despite orders to return to work, it appears that most rock-drill operators and their assistants have refused to listen to the company bosses. They are demanding their monthly pay be increased from R4,000 ($480) to R12,500 ($1,560).
Police Brutality and Tory Attacks Caused the Riots
The riots that swept large parts of London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol last night are an explosion of bitterness and rage.
This is what happens in a society of deep and growing inequality, where there are great pools of unemployment and poverty, where there is systematic police harassment and racism, and where many young people feel they have no future.
Just as with the student protests last year, it is the “lost generation” created by the Tories who are at the centre of these struggles—although many older people were also involved.
Posted by copwatch | Thu, 07/28/2011 - 10:01pm story
THE SHAME OF CALIFORNIA
I’ve been eating well this summer, enjoying the local fruits and vegetables of northwest California, while sixty miles away a group of men risked their health by refusing to eat for three weeks. I’m in Big Lagoon, surrounded by ocean, lagoon, and forest in an area of coastal California described by National Geographic as among the top twenty “unspoiled” tourist destinations in the world. An hour’s drive north of here is Pelican Bay State Prison, a state-of-the-art hellhole that was recently the center of a three-week hunger strike led by prisoners in the Secure Housing Units (SHU).
Posted by copwatch | Mon, 10/25/2010 - 11:22pm story
New research shows precisely how the prison-to-poverty cycle does its damage.
By Sasha Abramsky, Posted Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
Forty years after the United States began its experimentation with mass incarceration policies, the country is increasingly divided economically. In new research published in the review Daedalus, a group of leading criminologists coordinated by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (which paid me to consult on this project) argued that much of that growing inequality, which Slate's Timothy Noah has chronicled, is linked to the increasingly widespread use of prisons and jails.
It's well-known that the United States imprisons drastically more people than other Western countries. Here are the specifics: We now imprison more people in absolute numbers and per capita than any other country on earth. With 5 percent of the world population, the U.S. hosts upward of 20 percent of its prisoners.
This is because the country's incarceration rate has roughly quintupled since the early 1970s. About 2 million Americans currently live behind bars in jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries, and many millions more are on parole or probation or have been in the recent past. In 2008, as a part of an "American Exception" series exploring the U.S. criminal-justice system, New York Times reporter Adam Liptak pointed out that overseas criminologists were "mystified and appalled" by the scale of American incarceration. States like California now spend more on locking people up than on funding higher education.