Journal Article Review: Social Inclusion and Comparative Criminal Justice Policy

The study was conducted by Jose Luis Di´ez-Ripolle’s of the Andalusian Institute of Criminology at Ma´laga University in Malaga, Spain. The purpose was to examine “the social inclusion/social exclusion dimension as the comparative framework, to the detriment of widely accepted high punitiveness/low punitiveness.” (p.62) The analysis is based on the proposition that preservation of a certain degree of “social inclusion for suspects, felons, and ex-felons is one of the most effective strategies for crime prevention” and that increased levels of “social exclusion by the criminal control system fosters greater levels of crime in the mid and long term.” (p. 67)

The research for this framework begins with “studying the capacity of the corresponding national crime control systems,” implying that “crime control systems can be assessed by the performance they offer in terms of the acquisition, recovery, consolidation or, at least, non-worsening of an acceptable level of social inclusion for suspects and offenders. (p.66) More specifically by identifying “punitive regulations and practices that consistently reflect more socially inclusive or exclusive effects.” (p.69) To more accurately assess the data available, a methodology was developed listing “nine pools of indicators (listed below), additionally disaggregated into 25 indicators,” that are “able to explain the social inclusion/exclusion effects in any national crime control system in the terms indicated above, as well as to compare different national crime control systems according to these effects.” (p.70)

The biggest limitation this article noted, was its “unquestionable theoretical-political and social-scientific legitimacy.” (p.72) There were also several interesting factors discussed in this article including the “link between the intensity of crime control and the current crime rates in any given country” (p.64) as well as the political agenda that feeds media, public policy and societal perceptions. Ultimately, “national criminal justice systems, notwithstanding their inescapably distressing nature, should make it their utmost priority to guarantee that those who come into conflict with criminal law enforcement will suffer as little as possible as a consequence of their suspicious or criminal conduct. In short, it urges a reduction in the suffering of those subjected to criminal control.”

 

 

The 25 indicators, grouped accordingly into the nine pools of indicators, are the following:

 

1. Public space control: Gated communities, video-surveillance, private space exclusion policies.

2. Legal and due process safeguards: Undermining of due process safeguards, hindering of judicial reviews.

3. Sentencing and sanctions systems: Judicial discretion, aggravated provisions for recidivists, extensive use of prison, intermediate sanctions, electronic monitoring.

4. Harshest penalties: Death penalty, life prison sentence, long-term prison sentences.

5. Prison rules: Living conditions in prison, prisoners’ rights, release on parole.

6. Preventive intervention: Indefinite preventive detention, pre-trial detention.

7. Legal and social status of felons and ex-felons: Disenfranchisement, deprivation of further political rights, accessibility to social resources.

8. Police and criminal records: Expansion and accessibility of records, public lists of ex- offenders.

9. Youth criminal justice: Age thresholds, differentiated treatment from adults.

(p.70)

Crystal Segovia Gomez