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Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 187–196 | Cite as

From left realism to mass incarceration: the need for pragmatic vision in criminal justice policy

  • Michael JacobsonEmail author
  • Lynn ChancerEmail author
Article
  • 521 Downloads

Introduction: from left realism to mass incarceration

Looking back on the 1980s from the budget-strapped perspective of the “Great Recession” of 2007–2010 puts the passionate debates between British criminologists of the “left realist” versus “left idealist” persuasions in thought-provoking retrospect. In the earlier period, so-called “realists” were critical of “idealists” for overlooking the seriousness of people’s experiences with crime and violence. Jock Young was among others who derided a tendency of radicals to sometimes treat crime as though an ideological capitalistic sleight-of-hand; they contended that, in so doing, the left in countries like Britain and the US harmed itself by failing to confront actual neighborhood problems of crime and violence [1]. But, in this article, we contend that the highly abstracted level of the left ‘realist versus idealist’ debate created, and continues to sustain, a false and mostly academic dichotomy. As we will show through the example of a...

Keywords

Violent Crime Great Recession Prison Population Public Sociology Criminal Justice Policy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vera Institute of JusticeNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyHunter CollegeNew YorkUSA

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