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The Politics of Injustice

The Politics of Injustice
Crime and Punishment in America

Second Edition

October 2003 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The U.S. crime rate has dropped steadily for more than a decade, yet the rate of incarceration continues to skyrocket. Today, more than 2 million Americans are locked in prisons and jails with devastating consequences for poor families and communities, overcrowded institutions and overburdened taxpayers. How did the U.S. become the world's leader in incarceration? Why have the numbers of women, juveniles, and people of color increased especially rapidly among the imprisoned?

The Politics of Injustice: Crime and Punishment in America, Second Edition
is the first book to make widely accessible the new research on crime as a political and cultural issue. Katherine Beckett and Theodore Sasson provide readers with a robust analysis of the roles of crime, politics, media imagery and citizen activism in the making of criminal justice policy in the age of mass incarceration.

Features of this text:

  • Critical Approach. Debunks myths about crime in the U.S., challenges many current anticrime policies that became harsher in the 1990s, and illuminates the political implications of crime and punishment.
  • Contemporary. Updated throughout with particular attention to Chapter 5, "Crime in the Media," including research and analyses of crime in the news, crime as entertainment, and the interplay of news media, entertainment, and crime.
  • Comprehensive Research. Draws on a wide range of scholarship, including research on crime's representation in political discourse and the mass media, public opinion, crime-related activism, and public policy.
  • Consistent and Accessible. A great source to communicate new research to both non-specialists and specialists in accessible language with riveting, real-life examples.

Intended as a supplement for use in any criminal justice or criminology course, especially in the punishment, corrections and policy areas, The Politics of Injustice, Second Edition will appeal to those who take a critical approach to crime issues.

Chapter 1. Criminal Justice Expansion
Explaining the Expansion of the Penal System

Outline of the Book

Chapter 2. Crime in the United States
Crime in Historical Perspective

Crime in Comparative Perspective


Chapter 3. Murder, American Style
Popular Explanations of Violence


Inequality and Homicide


Chapter 4. The Politics of Crime
The Origins of the Discourse of Law and Order

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime

From the War on Crime to the War on Drugs


Chapter 5. Crime in the Media
Crime in the News

Crime as Entertainment

The Police Drama

The Crime Film

The "Reality-Based" Cop Show

Media Imagery and Public Opinion


Chapter 6. Crime and Public Opinion
Fear of Crime

Crime as a Social Problem

Popular Punitiveness

Understanding Popular Punitiveness

Alternatives to Punitiveness

Minority Dissent


Chapter 7. Activism and the Politics of Crime
Community-Based Crime Prevention Efforts

The Victim Rights Movement

Adverasarial Activism: Human Rights Campaigns Against Police Brutality, Capital Punishment, and the War on Drugs


Chapter 8. Crime and Public Policy
Drug Policing
Punitive Sentencing

Return of Capital Punishment

Retreat From Juvenile Justice

Prisoner Warehousing

The Surveillance Society

Criminal Justice and Democracy


Chapter 9. Alternatives
Social Investment

Harm Reduction

Alternative Sentencing

Rehabilitating Reintegration

Toward Disarmament

Community Policing



Perfect fit for my race, politics, and injustice class

Dr Mark Leymon
Criminology and Criminal Justice, Portland State University
September 12, 2013

Was looking for a text more focused on women-- will use this as a supplemental text

Dr Angela Barlow
Sociology Anthropology Dept, East Tennessee State University
July 24, 2013
Key features
  • This book provides readers with a better understanding of the nature of crime and punishment in the U.S., as well as the cultural and political contexts in which they occur.
  • It debunks myths about crime in the U.S., while challenging many current anti-crime policies that became harsher in the 1990s.
  • It draws on a wide range of scholarship, including research on crime's representation in political discourse and the mass media, public opinion, crime-related activism, and public policy.
  • The book is a great source to communicate this new research to nonspecialists and specialists alike. 
  • The new edition will be updated throughout. In particular, Ch.5 on the media coverage of crime received the greatest revision.

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452262918

ISBN: 9780761929949

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.