Sate crime

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  • State crimes
    • Eugene McLaughlin - Four types of state crimes
      • Political crimes - corruption or censorship (controlling what the media says)
      • Crimes by security and police forces - genocide and torture
      • Economic crime - violation of health and safety
      • social and cultural crimes - institutional racism
    • Examples
      • Genocide
      • War crimes
      • Torture
      • imprisonment without trial
      • assassination
    • Stan Cohen - spiral of denial (is what states use when accused of human right abuses)
      • Stage 1 -  ' it didn't happen'
        • Deny that anything occurred until international bodies produce evidence that it did occur
      • Stage 2 - 'its not how it looks'
        • State tries to redifine what has taken place as being something other than human rights abuse
      • Stage 3 - 'it had to be this way'
        • admitting that abuse occurred but to justify it by suggesting that it was the fault of the victims or that there was no other way
    • Scale of state crime
      • Marxism - The states power enables it to commit large scale crimes with widespread victimisation, and can conceal its crimes or evade punishment more easily
        • The state are able to conceal their crimes due to controlling the CJS - as the police do not police themselves making investigations bias as they control them
        • Principle of National Sovereignty makes it difficult for external authorities to intervene. the crackdown on borders means that they are able to victimise people as people do not know that it is happening
      • Media focuses on states crimes in 3rd world countries but avoids reporting on crimes in the UK and USA
      • Marxism - States are the supreme authority within their borders and have the  power to make the law meaning it can avoid its own harmful actions being deifned as criminal eg- Nazi Germany
      • States have ideological control so that they are able to censorship, meaning that when something goes against the Government they are able to block the media reporting
        • The public don't know the full extent of state control meaning that they are able to make it seem that it is not a big problem
    • Sykes and Matza give examples of how states use techniques of neutralisation to deny their crimes
      • Denial of victim
      • Denial of injury
      • Denial of responsibility
      • Condemning the condemners
      • Appeal to higher loyalties
    • Definitions of state crime
      • 1) Domestic Law - Chambliss
        • "acts defined by law as criminal and committed by state officials in pursuit of their jobs as representatives of the state"
          • Evaluation     is inadequate as it ignores the fact that the state have the power to define state crime, meaning that they are able to avoid criminalising their actions
            • Eg - Nazi Germany (sterilising the disabled)
      • 2) Social harm and zemiology
        • Hillyard et al - should replace study of crimes with zemiology such as state inflicted/faciliated poverty
          • For example the change in benefits caused some people to commit suicide therefore meaning that the state has commited the crime of murder
            • Evaluation     strength = the state cannot rule themselves out of court   weakness = Using a harms definition is problematic as it is difficult to make a clear judgment and to see what level of harm must occur before the act is defined as a crime?
      • 3) Labelling - interactionist perspective
        • state crime is socially constructed as an act is defined as a crime if the societal reaction defines it as such
          • Evaluation     seen as problematic as lots of people say that they don't have the knowledge to judge something as legal or illegal
            • for example - Kazlarichs study of anti-iraq war protestors found that while they were willing to label the war as illegitimate and harmful, they were unwilling to label it as criminal
      • 4) International law
        • Sate crime is any action by or on behalf of the state that violates international law
          • Evaluation             Strength = is easier to use as it is an objective definition, and has been designed to deal with state  crime unlike most domestic law    Weakness = international law tends to focus on war crimes meaning that small scale issues are ignored and state crimes such as corruption can be missed
      • 5) Human rights crimes
        • Herman and Schwedinger - should define state crime as violation of people basic human rights
          • Natural rights = people have these just because they exist eg: right to life
          • Civil rights = such as the right to vote, have privacy or education
          • Evaluation           strength = this definition makes states susceptible to shaming if they infringe human rights, also provides leverage to make them respect their citizens rights weakness = Cohen - while gross violations of human rights such as torture are clearly crimes , other acts such as economic exploitation are not self evidently criminal, even if we find them morally unacceptable.Chamblis - there is limited agreement about what counts as a humans rights crime.
          • Agree with zemiology and argue that we need to research crimes in the way that they break human rights, not in the way that they might violate specific laws. for example if a state denies someone their human rights then this act should be considered criminal
        • Examples
          • Torture - The state commits this as a means to extract information but will break human rights in both a physical and mental way eg - Guantanamo  bay
          • Ethnic cleansing - mass killing of members of an ethnic/religious group eg- genocide
          • Unsafe working conditions - eg - Rana plaza factory where over 100 people were killed

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