THE GROWTH OF CRIME: The International Experience by Leon with Joan King Radzinowicz

THE GROWTH OF CRIME: The International Experience

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Radzinowicz, a prominent British criminologist, provides an immensely learned, though rather olympian survey of the world-wide escalation of crime. It is as much an overview of the competing theories of criminologists as it is of the offenders; from Beccaria to Bentham, from Durkheim to Ramsay Clark, the ""roots"" of criminality have been variously located in mental deficiency, social anomie, poverty, and glandular derangement. Radzinowicz finds all such theories flawed to a greater or lesser extent, and points to the peculiar ""obduracy"" of criminal behavior. In all cultures, ""crime. . . has a way of feeding upon change, reappearing in new forms. . . battening on the characteristics of any society."" In particular, he questions the liberals' correlation of crime and poverty as too simplistic, citing the finding of investigators that ""the poor in rural areas of Europe were usually the most honest."" Throughout the post WW II era, moreover, rising prosperity has entailed rising crime. Radzinowicz ploughs through thickets of statistics and covers an immense terrain--from the USA to Scandinavia, from Britain to the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Less felicitous is his tendency to group political terrorism and state-sanctioned counterterrorism with more traditional forms of lawlessness. He has an unfortunate predilection, too, for the sweeping half-truth, e.g., ""Drug abuse, like motoring abuse, seems to be a virtually classless offense."" (True only if no distinctions are made between heroin and marijuana.) Like almost everyone else, Radzinowicz finds that prisons are raise:able places; they're expensive and produce high rates of recidivism. He examines some alternatives--fines, discharge, parole, supervision--but cautions against utopianism. Useful for professionals in the field, but somewhat frustrating for the layman.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1977
Publisher: Basic Books