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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: international

Judicial Images - Workshops and Public Lecture

Nickie Phillips

Prof Les Moran at Birkbeck College, London has organized the Judicial Images: Production, Management and Consumption workshops and lecture series.

The visual image of the judge has long performed an important symbolic role legitimising power and decision making. It takes many forms – sculptures, paintings, photographs, film, television. The audiences are multiple. This project explores how official and unofficial images of the judiciary are created, managed and consumed.

For more on visual research methods, go here.

When Punishment Was a New and Remarkable Thing: Medieval Anglo-Saxon Responses to Crime

Staci Strobl

Crimcast caught up with Dr. Jay Paul Gates (John Jay College of Criminal Justice) to discuss his and co-editor Dr. Nicole Marafioti's (Trinity University) edited volume Capital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England (2014, Boydell & Brewer). In the Middle Ages, Anglo-Saxon authorities often punished lawbreakers with harsh corporal penalties, such as execution, mutilation, and imprisonment. Despite their severity, however, these penalties were not arbitrary exercises of power. Rather, they were informed by nuanced philosophies of punishment which sought to resolve conflict, keep the peace, and enforce Christian morality. The ten essays in this volume engage legal, literary, historical, and archaeological evidence to investigate the role of punishment in Anglo-Saxon society. 

What prompted your interest in Anglo-Saxon punishment and how did this volume come about? 

Our interest in the topic of capital and corporal punishment grew out of basic questions concerning how the Anglo-Saxons – who inhabited and ruled England from the fifth century through the eleventh – thought about bodies in a legal context and how the body came to carry and convey meaning. We both love Wulfstan, that quirky eleventh-century Archbishop of York. His assertion that mutilation was a merciful alternative to execution—that the law must be concerned with the soul rather than the body—kept nagging us for attention. From here, we found contributors whose interests coalesced around Anglo-Saxon England. Yet the essays in the volume go well beyond the limits of England and the Anglo-Saxon period. Early Germanic and ‘barbarian’ law provide foundations; Mosaic, Irish, and Frisian law offer sources and analogues; and post- Conquest views of Anglo-Saxon England and Anglo-Saxon history show that the Anglo-Saxons continued to have relevance and meaning well beyond 1066.

One of the most interesting ideas to come out of the volume is that the Anglo-Saxons, at least initially, didn’t have much of a concept of punishment. There were systems of law, compensation, and vengeance, but these were all concerned with the maintenance of social order and stability rather than with the desire to punish unacceptable behavior. And when we came to think about it, the very concept of punishment itself seemed odd. After all, what does it do? For example, if Nicole lops off my arm, I am far better off if she pays me compensation for it than if she is punished. I might even forego compensation to get the satisfaction of vengeance. But punishment would leave me seeming weak and certainly unsatisfied: knowing she is in prison or doing back-breaking labor on a chain-gang is not going to satisfy me the way retaliation would. I’d also be short both an arm and a cash payment.

So, how did notions of punishment develop in Anglo-Saxon societies? 

Punishment seems to have developed under the influence of two major forces, the systematization of ecclesiastical penance and the centralization of royal authority. Christian responses to wrongdoing were surprisingly consistent with secular ideas of compensation. The penance known as “sick-maintenance,” for instance, required a perpetrator to do his victim’s work for him until he recovered—regardless of whether the injury was intentional or accidental. This was certainly good for social stability (the injury is compensated, the attacker shows he’s sorry, and no one needs to take vengeance), but there was also a real incentive to perform penance because it was good for the soul. The centralization of royal power also aimed to discourage vengeance and socially destabilizing actions. In fact, the earliest Anglo-Saxon punishments were designed to give people a chance to cool off and accept compensation in place of vengeance. Punishment becomes a new and remarkable thing, and kings only gradually assumed the right and responsibility of fixing other people’s injuries. It was only toward the end of the Anglo-Saxon period that kings claimed the authority to act on the body of a subject—a development that would have an important impact on post-Conquest English law.

 

 
Jay Paul Gates, John Jay College of Criminal Justice   

Jay Paul Gates, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

 

What ideas about punishment described in the volume appear to be persisting into modern Anglo-Saxon-influenced societies?  

The first point to note is that Anglo-American law, at least through the twentieth century, was very much influenced by the laws penned by Archbishop Wulfstan in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. They were first taken up by the Danish conqueror king, Cnut, and then by the Normans after the 1066 Conquest. In those early laws we see a real tension between the need for the threat of punishment as a means of deterrence and penitential punishment as a means of rehabilitating the criminal, except in the most extreme cases. Such attitudes toward the role of punishment in the criminal justice system seem still to be hotly debated. Similarly, the restrictions on felons in modern American law, even after they have served their sentences, recalls the Anglo-Saxon notion of the guilty as being permanently marked, whether through the elimination of their legal status (oath-worthiness) or through mutilation. However, what seems to have slipped into the background in the modern discussion, and which is very much worth foregrounding again, is the medieval concern not just with punishing the perpetrator but making whole the victim.

What can this volume, grounded in the humanities, teach social scientists and criminologists about approaching studies of contemporary punishment? 

As we hear the modern debate, there are three main functions of punishment: deterrence, vengeance, and rehabilitation. To the medieval mind, I don’t know that there was quite so great a distance between these functions as there is for us, and it is perhaps worth returning to the mutually supporting roles of these functions in modern discussions. An example of this may come in the form of compensation laws and “sick-maintenance.” These two related legal categories are fundamentally concerned with how to make whole a victim. That is, after one person wounded another, he had to pay compensation for the injury to the victim (the compensation tariffs of Anglo-Saxon law remain the foundation for workers’ compensation tables) and then do the work that the injured person was unable to do until he had healed sufficiently. Certainly there is a sense of vengeance enacted on the man who must do the work of the person he injured—it must be a slight to one’s honor and sense of self to serve someone whom he had wanted badly enough to attack. Yet there is a process for the injured party to see his attacker work for his benefit and make good the injury. Through such a process there is a real possibility of the cooling of tempers, of reconciliation between the two parties, and of rehabilitating the public peace that was broken as well. Something like this has been tried in the restorative justice after the genocidal violence in Rwanda. But perhaps looking to the medieval understandings of punishment would bring punishment and restorative justice into more regular discourse within less extraordinary criminal justice processes.

What avenues of future research will this volume open?

At least one suggestion has been that the idea of crime might need to be re-thought. After all, if penance is concerned with sin and if vengeance and compensation are concerned with injury, what defines crime? What makes crime its own category of wrong and how might it be punished? 

Additionally, there is a focus on men in this volume, simply because so many of our sources represent injury as a predominantly masculine concern. However, it is also important to consider women’s roles in punishment. How involved were women in imposing or mitigating punishment? How were they punished for offenses they committed, and what exactly were those offenses? Although evidence for female misconduct is more elusive, there is valuable work to be done in this area. 

Contributors to the volume include Valerie Allen, Jo Buckberry, Daniela Fruscione, Jay Paul Gates, Stefan Jurasinski, Nicole Marafioti, Daniel O'Gorman, Lisi Oliver, Andrew Rabin, and Daniel Thomas.

Don't Be Bamboozled by "International Terrorism": Republic of Congo and the Struggle for Everyday Justice

Staci Strobl

Photo of Brazzaville: Peter Romberg

Photo of Brazzaville: Peter Romberg

 

By Staci Strobl

With the violence in Gaza and Iraq, and the continued struggle for minority communities in the U.S. to be policed Constitutionally (Michael Brown and Eric Garner), Obama's meeting last week with leaders from Africa did not make it among the top news stories. But, the struggle for peace and social justice is at a critical stage for many of these countries, and indeed protestors demonstrated outside the White House to draw attention to the Administration's problematic economic partnerships with leaders that many consider dictators complete with overtures to their role in the U.S.-centric War on Terror.   Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, for example, had a particularly strong presence at the demonstration. 

Meanwhile, the leader of Republic of Congo, a relatively stable country in an unstable part of the world, was a less controversial White House guest, but nonetheless an interesting case in the tension between the alleged hope brought by a globalized economy (think Thomas Friedman) and the simultaneous legitimization of unfinished and problematic aspirations for peace and security.

Republic of Congo (sometimes called Congo-Brazzaville)  should not be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), its neighbor.  It is a former French colony that went on to be a Marxist state, but has since emerged, after some internal strife, as an allegedly developing democracy -- though the power of President  Denis Sassou Nguesso overshadows the political system and human rights groups have criticized the lack of a free press.  On the other hand, Nguesso is praised for environmental conservation efforts in relation to his country's rain forest, the second biggest in the world.  He also has been instrumental in brokering a recent ceasefire in the civil war between DRC's President Joseph Kabila and opposition fighters.  The country's economy is based on oil, forestry and agriculture.

Unfortunately, Republic of Congo remains an unsafe place for public dissent.  Last year, two teachers who were organizing a strike in support of a campaign for higher public sector status, were arrested for their union efforts, including the use of Twitter.  Several other union activist were arrested and one, Daniel Ngami, was forced to read a statement on television urging teachers to abandon their strike and return to work.  Although these arrestees were released within days without charges, this treatment amounted to a punishment for exercising free speech.

Perhaps more disturbing was the expulsion of refugees from the country.  In June, Republic of Congo forcibly expelled 130,000 DRC citizens that it claimed were the source of crime and insecurity.  The United Nations, meanwhile, documented that the expulsion-- of people already battered and fleeing war in the DRC-- involved physical beatings and even sexual abuse by authorities.  One Republic of Congo authority publicly expressed surprised at such "rude comments" from the U,N.

Despite these gross injustices within the country, Nguesso outlined his top priority in partnering with the U.S. as bringing American assistance and training to fight international terrorism and maintain national security from external threats:

"Make no mistake, we Congolese, we Africans, have to be responsible for our own security and, if required, fight for it... American could assist us all by effectively supporting a collective African response to these important challenges."

Although the discourse of international terrorism is an effective currency for getting at the ear, and pocketbook, of the U.S., the focus on national security and external threats fails to address, and even provides a distraction from, any more critical engagement with the political rights and freedoms of every day people.  As we see in America's engagement with all sorts of leaders and regimes of marginal, or worse, human rights record (such as in Bahrain or Turkmenistan), it appears that geopolitical security, economic partnerships and the requisite diplomatic glad-handing acts as a legitimizing factor, effectively labeling the country a "good" one.  Since most Americans probably are not familiar with Republic of Congo in any substantive way, the superficial thumbs-up become the whole story.

Some may argue, however, that there are worse leaders than Nguesso and much more fragile, war-torn countries in Africa.  But should the international community lower its human rights standards when we focus on the continent of Africa?  Has in effect Africa become a lost cause in the Western consciousness where we reward countries for at least maintaining a nation state on the barest, and often dictatorial levels?  Where we reserve are most collective ire for the warlords therein, neglecting so many other of the world's bad actors?  For example, some have criticized the International Criminal Courts potential bias in indicting mainly African individuals under the purported mission of prosecuting war crimes around the world.

Nguesso claims that his country harbors no political prisoners and has full. freedom of speech and the press, contrary to Amnesty International.  However, a focus on national security and a vague fight against international terrorism (construed here as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and being a bulwark against the spread of Boko Haram in the north), often turns into a blank check for regime to pursue other state-centric agendas at the expense of the people.  Though to be fair, Nguesso also has asked for U.S. aid to bolster education in his country, to fight high levels of unemployment and poverty, none of the security-oriented talking points alluded to anything that may help the average Congolese person's access to justice, or to train and augment local police forces in protecting human rights.  It appears that the discursive fusion of economic globalization and the fight against international global terrorism gets top billing.

Criminologists have a moral obligation to remain engaged in research and consciousness-raising about the everyday crime and access to justice in nations like Republic of Congo, who received national security-related aid and keep the dialogue focused on external threats.  Part of a critical consciousness about lesser known, "other" places, of the world is not to merely cast them in large, geopolitical frames as sites for global terrorism, but also as places where people need police stations, courts, and sanitary prison conditions, where political dissent is criminalized  where crimes occur (18.8 murders per 100,000 in 2004 and high rates of property crime).  Rape during the civil war of 1993-2002 has left many women in a state of post-rape trauma, as described in an article by Hustache, et. al.

Sadly, mainstream Western criminology often doesn't reward research agendas which focus on everyday crime and justice in far flung corners of the world.  Greater glory seems to go to criminologists willing to ride the wave of federal grants focusing on the same old international terror paranoia, feeding the notion that the rest of the world is a mere backdrop.  But ultimately, even the most global of global of terrorism is embodied in everyday cities, towns and villages.  A sober look at the more mundane crime problems in places like Republic of Congo would certainly not preclude a fight against terror, should it rear its head.  And, it will allow a better glimpse into what crime and justice means for the people of Republic of Congo, beyond the national security interests of its president.

 

Rehabilitation and Good Eats: London's The Clink Restaurant

Nickie Phillips

By Staci Strobl

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I like to eat and I support the ideal of the rehabilitation of offenders.  So what could be more perfect that The Clink Restaurant at Brixton Prison in South London?  I immediately made a reservation (in this case, well in advance because the prison must do its security checks on guests) for my husband and I to enjoy high-class dining, complements of inmates training as chefs, sous-chefs, and waiters.  I'll be perfectly honest: the concept is so grand that I was going to love it even if the food was bad.  But it most certainly was not.  Seared tuna on a bed of sesame oil and greens, Hake and mackerel fried medallions and thrice-fried chips, apple crumble, and fair-trade coffee.  Simply delicious.

The Clink is the third such restaurant opened in the United Kingdom in recent years.  The brainchild of Chef Alberto Crisci, and founder of the The Clink Charities, the prisoners work a 40-hour week, training towards the national certifications they need to enter the restaurant and hotel industries upon release.  Thereafter, they receive additional mentoring not only in securing job placement, but also with social and psychological issues that may trigger re-offending.

Anyone who has been keeping up with the rehabilitation literature knows that no one program fits all, but that in general, job training programs are the most likely to succeed with the biggest proportion of offenders.  And, according to the statistics provided by The Clink, and verified by an independent examiner, since its founding in 2009, the recidivism rates after one year of release are between 12.5% and 14%.  Compare this to the national average of 49% and it appears the program is a winner.  Granted, these inmates are selected for the program because they have the potential for success (and in that sense may not be typical of most U.K. prisoners), nonetheless, the success rates are quite suggestive that the program makes a real difference in prisoners' lives.

Could the model be imported to the U.S.?  Given the cultural emphasis on consumerism and work-- as in, there is something wrong with you if you can't consume because you don't have a job-- it would seem that the program would resonate for American prisoners as well, providing them an avenue for returning to mainstream society in a dignified way.  Unfortunately, the political buy-in from the public for such a program would certainly be harder to come by.  In the U.K., though there are strains and pockets of retributivism, they aren't as deeply engrained as they are in the U.S.  The British couple sitting next to us at The Clink speculated that at least half of Britons have a compassionate stance toward prisoner-integration programs, more so in an urban environment like London.  Alas, I am not sure half of the American population would be inclined to support such an intensive program which may provide better job training than that  to which the law-abiding citizen has access.

As a criminologist, I hope for a quality social science study of The Clink in order to glean out more clearly what works and how much it works.  I would do it myself, if I could ever find the time with my ten other projects in the fire.  But if anyone reading this needs a dissertation topic, it's up for grabs.

Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America

Nickie Phillips

June 2, 1986, =

Wednesday, 7th of May, 2014 from 5:30pm-7:30pm

Attend the opening of the exhibition Bearing Witness: Art Resistance in Cold War Latin America.

The exhibition runs from May 8, 2014-September 12, 2014

at ANYA AND ANDREW SHIVA GALLERY JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CUNY 524 WEST 59TH STREET L2.73.14 NEW YORK, NY 10019

Gallery Hours: 1pm-5pm, M-F, or by appointment

While censorship, kidnapping, torture, and murder became common tactics for repressive governments throughout Latin America during the Cold War, many artists from the region responded by producing poignant works of art that speak out against these atrocities. This exhibition brings together three distinct bodies of work that do so through documentation, poetic subversion and revelation.

Countries with Low Crime Rates: Comparing Vietnam and Japan

Nickie Phillips

By Megan Helwig, Guest Blogger

Vietnam-Japan_jpg

Vietnam and Japan, each with vastly different political regimes, maintain relatively low crime rates. Vietnam, a socialist state, appears to employ methods of fear and intimidation to maintain social control. Japan, a constitutional monarchy/parliamentary democracy utilizes a community-oriented policing system to maintain social order. Both states culturally advocate harmony and social order as their goals. However, both states also seem to take separate approaches as well as possess varying viewpoints of what maintaining societal harmony entails.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian country run by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). Vietnam is one of five remaining Communist nations of the world, amongst Laos, Cuba, North Korea and China. Vietnam is comprised of a “massive state security network.” Professor Carl Thayer, of the Australian Defense Forces Academy, estimated that “at least 6.7 million Vietnamese belong to the many security agencies.” This is roughly one out of every six people within the forty-three million working population of Vietnam that works in security. According to the BBC, “Vietnam’s Communist-controlled state security apparatus is comprised not only of the police forces and regular army, but also paramilitaries, rural militia forces and ‘neighborhood guardians.’ All of these different security forces are under the control of either the Ministry of National Defense or the Ministry of Public Security.

Japan’s police system has actually instituted measures to guarantee police neutrality for their police forces. These measures are carried out through the National Police Agency (NPA). According to INTERPOL, “The NPA is headed by a Commissioner General who, with the approval of the Prime Minister, is appointed by the National Public Safety Commission (NPSC), a state body which holds the rank of Ministry of State, guarantees the neutrality of the police, and administers the NPA.” The NPA oversees the Prefectural Police which is the law enforcement provider within Japan. The NPA is an apolitical body void of direct governmental executive control. The press is also able to freely monitor and express any criticisms of the system without fear of punishment.

It’s quite evident that Vietnam’s low crime rate is mostly due to the extreme amount of social control and censorship imposed by the government. These factors bring to the surface many human rights issues for a plethora of reasons. Political opposition is prohibited, and the administration of justice can be arbitrary and harsh. The idea that the revolution must be protected is what justifies the arrest of individuals choosing to speak out against its government or the state’s beliefs and practices. The state utilizes various modes of surveillance in order to keep an eye out for any incident of disobedience which enables quick, arguably unjust, enforcement of the law. From an objective perspective, this system could be arguably quite effective. However, the future stability of this social control method is somewhat questionable. A government that uses fear and intimidation to maintain social order will continually be potentially on the brink of mass public protest and revolt. In contrast, Japan’s system resembles a completely different form of social control and policing with a more community-oriented approach. According to Pakes, one of the most successful displays of community policing is in Japan. Japan’s community police are called koban. The Japanese policing structure enables the police forces to develop a more personal relationship with the community and ultimately helps erase the social gap typically found between police and civilians. The koban structure also combines policing with general assistance. Some of these general assistance interactions include: surveying, advising on addresses, lending out umbrellas, lost and found services, community activities, production and distribution of newsletters, self-defense classes, and sports. Overall, Japan’s form of community policing aligns with the culture’s emphasis on the importance of harmony.

(Photo: www.wordpress.tokyotimes.org)

Statistically, both Vietnam and Japan are effective at keeping their crime rates relatively low in comparison to the global crime statistics. Perhaps the question of analysis shouldn’t be which state’s police force has the most effectiveness in relation to their low-crime rates. Instead, maybe the focus should be on the means under which these low crime rates are established. Vietnam uses a method of tight governmental influence and social control and censorship to ensure obedience. Japan, in contrast, uses a more community-oriented approach to develop trust and solid relationships with its citizens while also providing for the basic needs of the community. Many would argue that for a state to be successful, it needs to provide the basic needs and services required by its people. This can also be said for communities as well as states. The koban policing system example within Japan seems to go above and beyond in relation to providing communities with services that address the citizen’s everyday needs. Another aspect to ponder is how secure each of the systems are in the long run? It seems quite evident that Japan possesses a significantly more stable system of policing and citizen respect than Vietnam system possesses.  Japan historically had a similar politically-heavy state-controlled system and successfully transitioned to what they are now. One size doesn’t typically fit all. However, Japan’s modern system could, at least in theory, maybe one day be a solution to Vietnam’s shaky and somewhat paranoid system.

Megan Helwig graduated from Lock Haven University with a B.A. in Political Science/Pre-Law. Currently, she is in the International Crime and Justice Masters program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In addition to knowing English and some Spanish, she is currently pursuing an advanced comprehension of Arabic (Classical and Egyptian Colloquial). Megan is ultimately pursuing a career in counter-terrorism. 

Bastoy Prison in Norway: A Humane Example of Incarceration

Nickie Phillips

Ana Luisa Crivorot, Guest Blogger

bastoy-prison-island

Imagine being on a beautiful island, in a bungalow where you have your own room with a laptop and television. You can sunbathe, jog, ride your bike, or take care of the farm animals. If you so wish, you may attend class, visit a well-stocked library, or earn any degree you desire. It sounds pretty idyllic, doesn’t it? To many it may actually sound like the perfect vacation. This all can be found in Bastoy an island in Norway. But Bastoy is not a college campus or a vacation resort, it is actually a prison.

Norwegian prisons are very humane and follow a high standard of living. Inmates have their own rooms, and have multiple opportunities to work, learn, or simply relax. Their accommodations are much nicer than most New York City apartments and their living standard infinitely times better than that of an average citizen in some developing nations. Your instinct may be that this all sounds too nice for someone serving a prison sentence, after all, this doesn’t sound too punishing does it? Even Anders Breivik, who massacred 77 individuals, mostly youths, in the summer of 2011, is eligible to move there after a portion of his sentence is completed. But, he must show repentance and a desire to rehabilitate himself in order to have that option. At the current moment Brevik has a three room suite in prison, equipped with his own small gym.

The official policy of the corrections system in Norway is that the only punishment to inmates should be the loss of liberty. Their day-to-day lives are supposed to be as close to the outside as possible and human rights are also a priority. Norway’s maximum prison sentence is twenty-one years, so it is understandable why preventing recidivism is a priority. Norway has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world, 20%, comparable only to a few other Scandinavian countries. Bastoy’s recidivism rate is even lower, at 16%. Its residents include murderers and rapists, but prison officials insist that they are being taught responsibility and to care for themselves and others. Norway’s incredible recidivism rate should be enough to convince many of the merits of such a system.

This is the second of two Crimcast blog posts exploring prisons in Norway.  See also Valeriy Kipelov's post on Norway's approach to prisons and punishment here.

Mugshot

Ana Luisa Crivorot is currently pursuing a Master's in International Crime Justice at John Jay College in New York City. She graduated from New York University with a double major in Psychology and Politics and hopes to pursue a career in Law Enforcement. Ana is originally from Brazil and is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.

The Expansionary Nature of Governance Through Fear: Is it Worth it?

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 5 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on TerrorAditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

Over the last four weekly posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part, 4), this blog series has been exploring the profoundly social impact that risk-based security policy has on our everyday lives. In using Selchow’s framework, I’m not trying to say that we have no agency in this process, and that we are helpless to stop it – quite the contrary. I feel only individual choice will reverse the trajectory of securitization, suspicion and fear that currently dictates how we view the risk of terrorism. By zooming in on the dynamics of depoliticization, responsibilization, and the separation of political decision-making from actuality, I have tried to break down the main pillars of what risk-logic does when it is the main force driving the governance of threats. I believe if we can understand objectively the forces at play within the networks of power that we engage in, we can decide for ourselves whether viewing the problem of terrorism only in terms of the risk of an attack and not the reasons behind one is benefiting our lives. Is this what we want for our future?

This question feeds in to the last dynamic of risk that is engendered by the dispositif of precautionary risk (DPR) mode of governance: expansion. As Selchow explains, the logic of risk implies an imperative to act. It is this dynamic that spurs the expansion of security; the UK government thus cannot not act. As we can see in the U.K., this dynamic inevitably feeds a process of ever-expanding securitization whereby increasing areas are deemed to harbor security threats. In the UK this can be seen in a variety of ways, stemming from the four rationalities driving the DPR. For example, this can be seen in the shift of the debate around tackling terrorism from addressing violence to extremism, from the physical to the imagined. This shift is one that has essentially ensured the securitization of potential thoughts.

It is no longer necessary for someone to physically carry out an act, suspicion of intent is enough to necessitate punishment. This perpetuates a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ (as outlined last week) that produces normalized ways of engaging with this perceived risk. In other words, due to the perpetuation of the innate ‘bad’ label given to the archetypal religious Muslim, society is more likely to accept further curtailments on ‘their’ rights. As these risk-based decisions are not ‘tamed’ by an accompanying actuality or any hard evidence beyond the perception of ‘riskiness’, this form of thinking will always produce a sense that there are further uncertainties to be tamed. This can be seen in the steady expansion of who is deemed ‘risky’ since 9/11. From 2001-2005, external, foreign elements were seen to be the primary threat, resulting in the rapid securitization of the immigration system to target asylum seekers and immigrants (Amnesty, 2010). After 7/7, however, threats were expanded to include the panoptic surveillance of British citizens to target ‘home-grown’ enemies. Since then, the yearning for ever greater knowledge has spurred the extension of surveillance to health clinics, schools and universities where doctors and teachers are expected to inform on those under their care. (Liberty, 2007).

Mahdi Hashi

The pre-emptive nature of policies deployed by the DPR means that information is always, and always will be, incomplete. However, the desire to project the appearance of control has led to policies based on the expansion of ever-more vague offenses such as the offenses of ‘glorification of terrorism’ and ‘indirect encouragement’, and non-prosecution constraining measures, such as the Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures (TPIMs [Annex 3]), in order to trap those who are suspected, but do not meet the evidentiary threshold required to be charged. Indeed, the acute suspicion of foreign nationals suspected of ‘extremist’ thoughts but not guilty of carrying out any criminal act, has very recently led to an expansion of executive power to enable the stripping of any naturalized citizen’s British citizenship. In recent years, this citizenship stripping has enabled governments to stick to the dogma of zero-risk and assassinate terror suspects through targeted drone strikes: if the suspect no longer exists, there’s no need to deal with the problematic prosecution of a crime that hasn’t been committed yet.

How this dynamic effects resistance: power dynamics

Consistent with the other dynamics, this process also precipitates at both the micro and macro levels. At the macro-level, Liberty articulates, ‘politicians feel like they need to be seen to be doing something in response to the terrorist threat, regardless of whether it wise…counter-productive…whether it’s entirely unnecessary’. Amnesty International United Kingdom (AIUK) has commented on the difficulty of fighting expansion of policy due to the combination of future temporality, secret evidence and use of vague offenses. In a 2012 Amnesty International report, resistance to this is seen as ‘shadow-boxing’ where ‘you have no idea if your strategy and points are on the money or wide of the mark’. AIUK has documented how the ‘seepage’ of the use of secret evidence in the U.K. has managed to dampen the successes gained in chipping away the system of pre-charge detention down to TPIMs, becoming an ever-more permanent feature of the civil sanctioning system with the institutionalization of the Justice and Security Act.

Reprieve and CagePrisoners demonstrate the importance of micro-resistance in direct ways with the public. CagePrisoners urge those affected by the expansion of risk-based policy to come directly to them to seek justice together, as well as share individual every-day experiences of these policies on a specially created website ‘www.schedule7stories.com’. They explain that this was done so that Muslims themselves could understand that these policies were not just based on racism, but part of a much bigger problem of governance, thus recognizing the importance of engaging with the macro-level debate.

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Reprieve has aimed to expose the sheer expansion of War on Terror policy such as the rendition network through the invasion of public space. For example, through teaming up with cosmetics company, LUSH, and lingerie designer, Agent Provocateur, images of Binyam Mohammad and Sami al Haj appeared in LUSH High Street windows, bath bombs and even on the runway through underwear that stated ‘fair trial, my arse’ (Reprieve, 2008). The use of humor in conjunction with this micro-level contact had a powerful impact that made the name ‘Binyam Mohammad’ shorthand for U.K. complicity in rendition and torture.

The importance of humanizing the nature of risk-based policies at the micro-level and not just applying political pressure at the state and transnational level is caught up in the significance CagePrisoners gives to the role of ‘misunderstanding’. If individual assumptions are not targeted – whether they be about misunderstanding the driver of policy or misunderstanding the indefinability of terrorism – people will carry on being normalized into thinking that to gain security, you have to keep on giving up freedoms.

Conclusion: How the case of HRO resistance in the UK pulls together the threads of risk and power

By analyzing the role of human rights organization (HRO) resistance to the technologies deployed by the DPR mode of governance in what Foucault calls ‘the battle for truth’, it is thus possible to see how risk dynamics are ultimately intertwined with power. Focusing on this site of resistance can see how Selchow’s four dynamics are central to the constant negotiation of the dynamics of power that circulate the ‘regime of truth’ regarding the governance of the UK through the DPR.

Secondly, the example of the work of CagePrisoners and their encouragement of the micro-resistance of the Muslim ‘suspect community’ to supplement the macro-resistance carried out at state-level by HROs crucially reveals that it is not enough to simply focus on macro-, policy-level resistance whether globally, or against the state. This is due to what CagePrisoners deems ‘misunderstanding’ at both the micro- and macro-levels. The creation of the Muslim ‘terrorist’ is a central technology deployed by the DPR through the four rationalities that drive it. In essence, the case of the UK suggests that the perpetuation of a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ produces normalized ways of engaging with discourses that present the Muslim identity as ‘risky’. In other words, due to the perpetuation of the innate ‘bad’ label given to the perceived ‘archetypal religious Muslim’, it is likely that society will submit to the dynamic of expansion that indicates further curtailments on ‘their’ rights. If it doesn’t affect me - it’s not my problem, right?

By looking at the combined social and political effects of risk dynamics and their ripple effect on relations of power, it can be seen that simply focusing on resistance to top-down frameworks that govern political power such as parliamentary mechanisms and lobbying, is no longer enough. The Foucauldian ‘battle for truth’ is not about absolute truths that are accepted, but about rules by which these truths are constructed and engaged with by society. The importance of going beyond legal frameworks and working at the level of everyday interaction is highlighted by the examples of CagePrisoners and Reprieve in their parallel activities that aim to affect micro-relations. Interestingly, both of these organizations emerged fully-fledged post-9/11, born out of the need to resist the rationalities and technologies deployed by the DPR.

In saying this, this blog series is not saying that state-level resistance is not important. As shown, different HROs take different roles regarding resistance within the DPR system of governance. Organizations like Liberty and Amnesty cannot fulfill the same role as an organization like CagePrisoners as they are not part of the ‘suspect community’. By the same token, Reprieve equally cannot function the same way as CagePrisoners. However, when viewing successful negotiation of power within the DPR such as the joint HRO campaigns on pre-charge detention and UK complicity in torture, it is clear that there needs to be this division of labor. This enables HROs to target the multiple dimensions of the dynamics engendered by the DPR: global, legal, political, social; micro- and macro-.

This series has attempted to highlight the shifting and fluid nature of the circulations of power underlying risk-governance. Risk-logic can’t be reduced to a technical tool used to govern terrorism. The dynamics that this sets in motion have fundamentally altered society-state relations in a profoundly social way. Risk-based security policy has resulted in a wholesale cultural shift that rests on fear and suspicion and doesn’t ask why the problem of terrorism exists. Instead, it simply tries to pre-empt it from occurring through an expansionary process that is slowly destroying freedom of speech, movement and privacy. Ultimately, the question we should be asking ourselves when we ignore this practice is: ‘is this worth it?’

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homeless organizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the last post in her five-part series on Crimcast which began in early January, 2014.

"It's Probably Nothing, But...": How Governments Make Us Responsible For Our Own Security

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 4 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on Terror

Aditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

Following on from last week’s post, this week I’ll be discussing Selchow’s third dynamic that is engendered by the Dispositif of Precautionary Risk (DPR), a pre-emptory risk –based mode of governance: the internalization of security issues and the process of ‘responsibilization’. As touched upon last week, the creation of an archetypal Muslim terrorist figure in the U.K. has essentially depoliticized the issue of the governance of terrorism for the majority of the population, while the blame for the root of terrorism has been placed firmly on Islamic extremism and the British Muslim community by association. Thus, it’s evident that the dynamics of depoliticization and responsibilization are intimately linked. Through the governmentality approach, the DPR mode of governance shows that its assemblages of surveillance and risk discourse both work to construct sectors of society that are ‘dreamt up, marginalized and put under suspicion’; and ‘normalize’ the rest of the population, thereby ‘inviting citizens to become security guards, spies and informants’ on the ‘risky’ Muslim community (Mythen and Walklate 2006:390-392). This means that the Muslim community is not only blamed for the problem of terrorism, but are ultimately pressured to provide the solution to the problem by looking inwardly at themselves; effectively, the Muslim community has to internalize the problem of national security in this way, taking it on their own shoulders while simultaneously easing the responsibility of the government to engage fully with the problem.

Those who do not fall under the ‘suspect community’ are responsibilitized in a way that not only allows the continued allocation of blame on the ‘suspect community’, but also places the onus on them to report on anything ‘abnormal’. This dynamic is most clearly seen in government campaigns such as the recent one by the Metropolitan Police emphasizing that it is the Londoners’ responsibility ‘to be vigilant’ for anything ‘out of place in normal day to day lives’.

met police sign

Mythen et. al. (2012:394) thus articulate the core of this politics of normalcy: ‘this requirement to present an outwardly safe identity…reveals the coercive social pressures that a pervasive climate of suspicion has engendered’. Indeed, this has led to ‘checking behaviors’ such as selective use of dialect, clothing and curbing of outward behavior in the public sphere (p. 391). As the 7/7 bombers were ‘home-grown’ from the Muslim community in Yorkshire, the onus of protecting society has fallen hardest on the Muslim communities in the U.K. The consequences of this element of responsibilization via the allocation of blame has led to the targeted surveillance of Muslim communities through stop and search policies, questioning at ports under Schedule 7 of the Terrorist Act, pre-emptory raids, and the pressure to spy on their own communities through the creation of Muslim Community Units through the PREVENT strategy. Notably, even though these pre-emptory actions are based entirely on suspicion of intent, the person who is targeted has barely any rights in place to protect them from the effects of human error in judging their ‘riskiness’. A corollary to this is the 600% increase in Islamophobia since 2001 and its associated increase in violence on Muslim people and mosques (Spalek, 2008:420).

How this dynamic effects resistance: power dynamics

The dynamic of responsibilization can be seen as directly related to the discourses of power surrounding the ‘battle for truth’ regarding justice. Amnesty International United Kingdom (AIUK) iterates that this dynamic makes HRO work safeguarding human rights standards all the more significant: ‘the stuff that is most unpopular is some of the most important…because it’s the issues that others won’t pick up on…that don’t have public support’. As Liberty (2007:16) articulate, it is unlikely that the majority of Britons ‘upon waking up…felt more subject to surveillance than they did yesterday’; however, targeted surveillance over the Muslim community means that they truly feel the interlinked dynamics in Burchell’s (1991) sense of having to change the way they see themselves as governed subjects, due to the way they are governed. CagePrisoners explains, ‘the way the government speaks, the way the media speaks and the way the average person on the street speaks all perpetuate this cycle of fear’, thus responsibilitizing society wholesale through the DPR’s rationalities of zero-risk and shifting of the burden of proof.

However, from CagePrisoners’ personalized responses in interview, we can see that governance through the DPR and the social dynamics it engenders has a much sharper effect on the ‘suspect community’ of Muslims. CagePrisoners explains that this suspicion has a chilling effect on the politics of the community as a whole: ‘if we stick our heads above the parapet, they’re going to come after us next’. It is thus evident that CagePrisoners feels the four interrelated dynamics engendered by DPR in a way that cuts right to the social core of what the application of risk does to society. As CagePrisoners says, ‘wherever you see a threat coming from a community which goes against the norm of understanding of criminal behavior, you will see a disproportionate response to those threats’. CagePrisoners’ responses emphasize that the key role of the organization is to empower the Muslim community to break away from inactivity and submission to the prevailing rationalities of zero-risk and the shift of the burden of proof.

Due to its unique vantage-point as a Muslim organization, CagePrisoners engages in this ‘battle for truth’ on a level that has a much more personal tone than any of the other human rights organizations (HROs) interviewed. For example, in a CagePrisoners article (Balaratnam, 2012) regarding United Kingdom BorderAgency  (UKBA) policy of detaining people at the border for questioning under Schedule 7, the article speaks directly to a Muslim audience and is presented as a Muslim voice. Although not articulated in the terminology of risk, the article essentially asks Muslims to break through the dynamic of responsibilization whereby the allocation of blame on the Muslim community is legitimized through the reflexive internalization of blame. The article asserts it point by provocatively asserting that if the reader is stopped at the border, they have to concede ‘it’s my fault I got stopped today – my fault for being brown’. The form of resistance encouraged by CagePrisoners, therefore, is one that is very different to collective action. It is essentially micro-resistance whereby the individual only resists what affects them on an individual, direct level. Thus, if the affected community itself does not even question the rationalities that legitimize racially-prejudiced forms of profiling and surveillance, CagePrisoners warns that no one will, therefore undermining any lobbying conducted by HROs at the state-level.

This insight is even more powerful when one considers the recent uproar over the detention of David Miranda under Schedule 7 – only when one of the majority non-Muslim population was affected did the media question it, let alone campaign against it. Ultimately, it was only picked up by the media because Schedule 7 affected a Guardian journalist’s partner (Greenwald, 2013). This relation epitomizes the importance of the ‘micro’ level of resistance in countering what is essentially a cultural shift to living through risk, when faced with the multitude of arguments that focus on the global erosion of rights and the need for macro-analyses of power.

Whilst Liberty, AIUK and Reprieve revealed their primary state-level focus by identifying the depoliticization dynamics of secrecy and the narrative of fear as the greatest obstacles to checking government overreach, CagePrisoners stated ‘misunderstanding and blind ignorance’. For them, the social impact of society not understanding the Muslim community, ‘what they’re about and their belief system’ is a major factor in the way government policy is formed. His responses suggest that the government construction of a ‘paradigm of who we are and the way that we engage’ has completely neglected the crucial importance of micro power dynamics. In a reflection of the multitudinal networks of Foucauldian power relations, Asim Qureshi, Executive Director of Cageprisoners, outlines that ‘our identity is not just an identity; it’s a multitude of identities that superimpose themselves one on top of the other’. It may seem logical and practical for the UK government to ask the Muslim community to report on ‘bad’ Muslims through policies such as PREVENT; however, the top-down engagement with only the archetypal ‘good’ Muslim that has been created in the political imagination effectively renders the policy counter-productive and end up pushing away the majority of Muslims who feel they do not fit that rigid definition. CagePrisoners gave the example of Muslims being targeted by the government for simply disagreeing with government policies such as going to war with Iraq. At a recent lecture, CagePrisoners’ founder, Moazzam Begg, spoke of a teenage girl arrested for writing poetry that was seen as ‘extremist’. In their view, the government-led counter-terror policy is ‘dictated by people who are not willing to engage in a way that is useful’, thus simultaneously legitimizing more and more extreme measures against ordinary people in order to secure the state, while creating resentment and isolation among communities who would be willing to engage on their own terms.

Moazzam-Begg-640x360

This insight cuts to the social core of the combined dynamics of risk engendered by the DPR; ultimately, as asserted by CagePrisoners, this ‘criminalization of people based on an assumption of what you think they are’ takes away Muslim agency. It says, ‘you’re not capable of making up your own mind…you’re not capable of engaging with society…and so we’re going to put you all in the same tub and treat you all in the same way’. This is why the policy shift from targeting violent actions to ‘extremist’ thoughts dictated by UK counter-terror policy worries CagePrisoners so much; it is inherently disenfranchising and disempowering.

Indeed, this micro-level understanding of power dynamics in the context of risk-governance and the need to resist them is also demonstrated by Reprieve in a way that connects the global, macro-level power dynamics inherent in the War on Terror; apart from the macro-issues of the rendition program and Guantánamo, they acknowledge that it is ‘Life After Guantánamo’ (LAG) that poses a big social problem (Reprieve, 2009). Their LAG program thus attempts to overcome the social and psychological difficulties experienced by ex-detainees that result from absorbing all four dynamics of risk via pre-emptory policies and the way that society treats them when they are finally released.

The U.K. government’s perpetuation of what CagePrisoners calls a discourse of ‘misunderstanding’ ultimately produces a Muslim identity that is inherently perceived as ‘risky’. Not only does this dynamic force the Muslim community as a whole to feel responsible for the devastation created by terrorist attacks they had no connection with, the government’s attempts to use this community as an intelligence source ends up actually isolating them further. The rest of society, meanwhile, sinks further into a cycle of constant vigilance and suspicion: is the neighbor with the blinds constantly down up to no good? The perpetuation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘suspicious’ and ‘normal’ labels within UK security practice mean that it is likely that majority society will accept – even crave – extension of security measures and further curtailments on the rights of socially constructed ‘bad people’. The state of constant readiness for the next attack that is physically taken on by the U.K. population thus leads to the dynamic I will be focusing on next week: the expansion of ‘securitization’.

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homeless organizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the fourth installment in her five-part series on Crimcast which began on January 3, 2014.

What the U.S. Should Learn From the Norwegian Prison System

Nickie Phillips

Tromso-city-winter-Norway-740

Valeriy Kipelov, Guest Blogger

Having realized that prison trends are pretty sad in the U.S. (mass incarceration), I tried to find an answer to this question: Is there a country in the world that deals with criminal offenders more efficiently than the U.S.? The answer popped up quickly. That country is Norway, and here is my reasoning.

Norway is a rich, highly developed democracy. It has a wide range of natural resources, a huge territory for quite small population of just five million people, and – most importantly – it has rich human capital and a strong respect for law and public order. That order to a great extent is reflected in something quite unique to Scandinavian countries, their approach to prisons. Just read what one Norwegian prison official said during an interview: We don't look at our inmates as criminals,but rather as regular people who have committed a crime. This idea of treating inmates as regular citizens who must (with professional help of the governmental institution) be rehabilitated and eventually brought back into normal society, is in my opinion very simple, yet amazing. Such a philosophy is actually the key to this country’s unbelievable rehabilitative successes.

norwegian flag

In Western countries deprivation of freedom was once believed to be the harshest way to punish criminals. So, deprivation of freedom is already itself a punishment and the main idea thereof: locking offenders up, so that they have a certain amount of time to reflect, to fully realize the gravity and negative effect of their actions. Aggravating the deprivation of freedom with collateral hardships, which are by the way not necessarily legal or moral, is not only unjust, but also counterproductive. The goal of a well-functioning society is to manage crime rates and keep them low by promoting and running effective criminal justice systems. This is exactly what the Norwegian authorities have been able to do during the last few decades, and what we, the United States, are so far not capable of doing.

Look at some self-explanatory statistics: The incarceration ratio per 100,000 is 72 in Norway and 716 in the US. So, we are at the number one in the world in terms of incarceration rate, whereas they, the Norwegians, are at number 176; Murder rates -- 0.6 murder cases per 100,000 citizens in Norway, 5 per 10,000 in the U.S. Finally, the most self explanatory piece of data – the recidivism rates; 68% in the U.S., 20% in Norway.

Now that it is evident that one country is much more successful in deterring recidivism than the other – how is it possible in practice?  A Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie introduced his own theory that states that every offender deserves "re-socialization.” In Norwegian state prisons such as, for example Bastoy or Halden, they try to re-socialize the inmates through forestry work, gardening, and taking care of the animals. This type of work is believed to have the most pacifying and rehabilitating effect.

Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie (Photo: www.universitetsforlaget.no)

An interesting fact: all Norwegian corrections officers work without weapons, which would probably sound crazy for an American correctional officer. The reason is that weapons create the atmosphere of hostility and aggression that guns normally imply. And one of the main tenets of Norwegian penitentiary system is the like-home environment inside the prison, which has proven to be effective in reforming the inmates. You probably remember the most famous Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik who killed 77 people a couple of years ago. That guy, despite the atrocity that he committed, is not rotting in some dungeon. He enjoys himself in Halden prison, where he has a cozy room (instead of a dirty cell), tasty whole food, world-class healthcare, all sorts of amenities including the Internet and television, plenty of free time and even the possibility to earn another higher education degree.

Shocking? Halden’s wardens say they don’t see anything unusual about this approach. The formula of Norwegian success seems clear: you treat inmates as regular people, promote and create a culture of respect within all prisons – and you have less inmates re-entering the system; you treat them harshly, in an inhuman way and without providing for their basic (or even – advanced) needs, allowing violence in the cells and in prison yards – you get more hardened criminals full of hatred, who will never ever return to normal life, and will most likely come back to the lockup again and again.

Different countries highlight different goals of punishment. Norway, as we now clearly see – puts rehabilitation at the top, and this concept pays off exceedingly. I truly believe that the U.S. needs to seriously consider adopting the Norwegian prison model. Our prison population keeps growing. We build more and more correctional institutions and promote the culture of control-- and it has to be reversed.

At the same time I fully realize how much must happen before American society shifts its point of view and accepts such a radical and liberal policy transfer. The cultural differences are huge. The U.S. is a highly diverse, multicultural nation, while about 86% of Norway citizens are ethnic Norwegian, which makes it a much more homogeneous state than the US. It is surely much harder for the American people of wide variety of cultural/ethnic backgrounds to reach some consensus; we don’t have anything remotely liberal in our prison system, while they, Norwegians, have had such a modus operandi for decades.

The U.S. could technically afford liberalizing by decriminalizing certain petty offenses, incarcerating less people, and directing the saved funds to rehabilitating purposes, similar to the Norwegian approach. But this would require clear realization of such necessity and sincere political will. You bet: building golf fields for rapists would not be the best line in a politician’s election campaign. So, the shift in our mindset would require the public will and a lot of political and educational work. Incarcerating more offenders means killing the symptoms of the social disease; rehabilitating the offenders and cutting the recidivism rate means curing that disease. And we need to make the right choice when reforming our prison system.

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Valeriy Kipelov was born in Debrecen, Hungary, and raised in Kiev, Ukraine. He lived in Germany for a year and earned a BA in Linguistics (English, German, Ukrainian) from Kiev National Linguistic University.  He also has a BA in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Currently, he is in the MA Program in International Crime and Justice at John Jay College. He has worked as a news anchor/reporter for RTVi, a Russian television station in NYC. Kipelov is pursuing a career in U.S. law enforcement. 

When Security Decision-Making Becomes Estranged from Actuality

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 2 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on Terror

Aditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

In my previous post, I outlined the four dynamics set in motion when we think of security threats through the prism of risk-logic. This post will zoom in on the first dynamic, ‘decoupling political decision-making from actuality’ and show how this frame of thinking has a profoundly social effect on our everyday lives and the way we recognize and engage with the threat of terrorism.

You may be thinking at this point – what does this have to do with me? It’s the government’s prerogative to protect us, and they call the shots – not me. In order to illustrate how the infiltration of risk-logic in security practices not only affects us, but changes the way we conduct our lives, I am going to demonstrate how power relations at the ground level as well as the governmental level are affected. I will do this by looking at the work of United Kingdom-based human rights organizations who try to combat the curtailment of freedoms post-9/11, as they engage with the general public as well as governmental authorities. This will be based on interviews with Amnesty International UK (AIUK), Reprieve, CagePrisoners, and Liberty.

The utility of viewing risk-based governance in terms of power relations:

foucault18

It’s useful to view the impact of risk-logic in security practices through the lens of Foucault’s governmentality thesis, whereby power is seen as a circulatory phenomenon rather than something that is ‘held’ by any one entity (Foucault 1990: 91). In other words, power relations are as important at a governmental (macro) level, as they are at the grassroots (micro) level. Foucault defines modes, or assemblages of governance as a ‘dispositif’ of governance. This consists of rationalities (ways, or frames for thinking about policy) and technologies (tools, practices and policies that are used in governing) of governance that encompass the efforts of those in power to account for ‘the authority of their authority’ (Aradau and Van Munster, 2007:15).

This governmental attempt to justify their right to power is done through discourses of knowledge which are in turn facilitated through everyday social practices enacted by ordinary people. Through this Foucauldian framework it is possible to see the role of human rights organizations’ resistance to risk-based counter-terror policy in what Foucault calls ‘the battle for truth’. This is not a battle for an absolute truth, but ultimately about the rules that dictate how true and false are separated (Rabinow 1984:74). It is through this lens that we can see how Selchow’s four dynamics are central to the constant negotiation of the dynamics of power that circulate the Foucauldian ‘regime of truth’ that makes up governance.

Burchell (1991:144) suggests that modern politics is characterized by an oscillation between a ‘suspicious fear’ of state intervention in our lives, and a ‘demand that the government will respect our rights whilst taking responsibility… for sheltering us from insecurities and dangers’. It is in this space that the social impact of risk-logic can be clearly seen, between those who suspect the government of over-reaching their power and those who believe it is protecting them, thus participating in risk-based security practices.

It is in this space that we can locate and examine the resistance carried out by UK human rights organizations to counter-terror policies, thus illustrating the very real impact that risk-based security policy has on our everyday lives.

Zooming in on the first dynamic: the decoupling of political decision-making from actuality

The Foucauldian dispositif of government (or mode of governance) we are seeing post-9/11 is one that Aradau and Van Munster describe as the ‘dispositif of precautionary risk’ (DPR), as opposed to previous forms of risk-governance. While previous dispositifs of risk centred on identifying, preventing and containing existing threats, this new DPR instead seeks to pre-empt risks through active engagement of the population, thus setting in motion Selchow’s four dynamics.

Selchow’s first dynamic, ‘the decoupling of political decision-making from actuality’ - that is engendered by the DPR - thus echoes this new dispositif post-9/11. This can be seen clearly in the U.K. through the Police National Legal database’s (PNLD 2009:85) assertion that ‘given the current level of threat from international terrorism’, there is a need to apprehend those suspected of terrorism ‘prior to gathering sufficient evidence to secure a conviction’.

The DPR is driven by four inter-linked rationalities that fundamentally change the relationship between state and society by allowing new technologies to be deployed and justified as part of the fight against terror: the notion that any level of risk is unacceptable (i.e. zero risk), constant worst-case-scenario-thinking, the belief of serious and irreversible damage posed by terrorism, and the shifting of the burden of proof from state to society as a whole (Aradau and Van Munster, 2008). In this way, the ideal of total security has replaced the desire for peace, driving a politics that assumes the terrorist ‘other’ unquestionably responsible for irreparable damage.

From 2000-2006, five new terrorism acts were introduced which encompassed the expansion of powers that constituted ‘alternative non-prosecution actions to protect the public’ (PNLD 2009:85) such as 28 day pre-charge detention, stop and search powers, indefinite detention of ‘suspected international terrorists’, control orders and new offenses such as ‘glorification of terrorism’.  From 2007, counter-terrorism powers were effectively normalized. New offices, official national security strategies, and laws such as the Counter-Terror Act 2008 and the introduction of TPIMs ensured that exceptional measures were institutionalized. The expansion of counter-terror powers from temporary emergency legislation to permanent fixtures that institutionalize the decoupling of decision-making from the grounds of actuality in ‘daily security practice’ clearly illustrates how the DPR has set in motion the decoupling of action from actuality in the U.K.

Pre-emptive domestic security practices can be seen to be justified by an emotive narrative of national security that is extremely hard to counter-act. This is epitomized in the militarization of domestic policing in the U.K. which led to the shooting of Charles De Menezes as part of the new ‘shoot to kill’ policy operationalized after the 7/7 attacks in London. Similarly, 250 police officers stormed a house in Forest Gate in search of chemical weapons, shooting one man and detaining two for eight days – both men were later released without charge (Mythen and Walklate 2008:235).

Charles De Menzes: Mistaken for a suicide bomber and shot by police (Photo credit: BBC News)

These pre-emptive domestic practices are echoed in the violent complicity of the U.K. in the global intelligence network driving the pre-emptory abduction, rendition and torture of terror suspects; once one assumes a projective ‘what if?’ position, presumption of innocence metamorphoses into a presumption of guilt. The engendering of the decoupling of action from actuality is made undoubtedly clear by the recalibration of justice to allow for the pre-emptive measures to be issued purely on suspicion of future conduct; it is no longer necessary to carry out terrorist activity, suspicion of intent is enough. This dynamic thus echoes the DPR rationality of shifting the burden of proof: As Bonner (2007:34) outlines, post-9/11, suspects are effectively presumed guilty until proved otherwise. This is clear by Iain Blair’s assertions that whilst IRA terrorists were presumed innocent until proved guilty, the ‘unparalleled’ (in Bonner 2007:7) threat of today’s terrorist is seen as too dangerous to allow that privilege.

The DPR thus illuminates both the top-down discursive construction of the terrorist threat, and the efforts of the state to (re)establish a mandate for control; worst-case scenario-thinking drives more extreme measures that loop back and reinforce an expansive culture of fear, garnering support for pre-emptory practices that are based merely on suspicion of intent rather than any actual event. For example, the government reaction to the Forest Gate shooting reinforced the rationalities of the DPR: "You can only imagine if they fail to take action and something terrible happened what outcry would be then, so they are in an impossible situation" (BBC, 2006). The rationalities of zero-risk, the risk of catastrophic damage and worst-case-scenario-thinking drive a scare-mongering narrative that ultimately legitimizes the rationality of shifting the burden of proof from the state to the individual.

The difficulty to counter-act this emotional narrative of pre-emptive security policy is compounded by the fact that policy-making is seen by HROs as not malicious, but genuinely based on the desire to protect the public due to their duty to try to control the terrorist threat, or at least instill confidence in their authority by presenting the threat as ‘under control’. AIUK explained in an interview that the government ‘often had good grounds for having concerns’, and ‘we would be in a difficult position if we didn’t acknowledge that’, thus undermining attempts to state that a pre-emptive stance is detrimental to society. AIUK explained that the emotions surrounding the issue of protecting citizens allow for pre-emptive action on ‘extreme’ individuals. However, as Reprieve pointed out, just the mere suspicion of terrorist activity or association makes it very difficult to ‘advocate for them in the court of public opinion’ – ‘they’re scarecrows’. Representatives from Liberty and AIUK make clear that the government holds ‘all the cards’ in the form of national security intelligence access to state secrets. As AIUK illustrates, ‘the state can stand up and say we have seen how many bad guys there are…how many plots’. Both Liberty and AIUK point to this dynamic as a huge challenge to combat using human rights framework as the response is always boiled down to ‘we can do it now because the risk is so much greater than it has ever been’ (AIUK interview).

The main impact of the decoupling of political decision-making from actuality on the power of HROs is thus encapsulated in the future temporality of all decision-making. When there is no official offense or action that is being addressed through the application of a TPIM or by the rendition of a suspect – it is increasingly difficult to make people understand the difference between people who are merely suspected, and those who have actually committed a crime. CagePrisoners and AIUK argue that the very act of pre-emptory arrest, or the issue of TPIM leads the public to believe that they must be guilty of something – thus hindering HRO resistance to these measures. The onus of guilt placed on terror suspects by the decoupling of action from actuality is clearly seen in HRO advocacy for Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee in Guantanamo Bay. Aamer has never been charged with any crime, however the paralysis of this dynamic has rendered the writ of habeas corpus 'functionally useless’ due to the risk posed by his status as a terror suspect: what if?

This dynamic has taken a sinister turn domestically within the U.K. as CagePrisoners points out that doctors and university professors are now recommended to report those ‘vulnerable to extremism’ (Travis, 2011). This means that more and more public institutions where people interact are being drawn into the worst-case-scenario-thinking that rationalizes the DPR, feeding into a culture of fear that legitimates the creep towards the curtailment of rights to a fair trial, privacy, asylum and free movement because of fear of terrorism.

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homelessorganizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the second in her five-part series on Crimcast which began in early January, 2014.

Deconstructing Risk Narratives in the War on Terror

Nickie Phillips

NTAS

Part 1 of 5 in a series on Risk-Logic and the War on Terror

Aditi Gupta, Guest Blogger

Since 9/11 many of us may have noticed the creeping erosion of democratic and legal principles  in what has been called ‘The War on Terror’ (WoT). The present day, world-wide agenda combining extraordinary rendition, secret evidence, mass surveillance, secret detention and 'enhanced interrogation' is something that has caused uproar among all who care about civil liberties, fair treatment and due process. Journalists, academics and human rights activists the world over have repeatedly exposed and condemned these global security policies, seeking change at the highest level in the international and domestic arena.

While this strong focus on legal and policy implications of the WoT is an essential and core component of the means to combat the effect of global security practices post-9/11, this series will argue that if we really want to abolish these policies, we first need to change the way that we think about terrorist security threats in the first place.

Many studies have noted a conceptual shift to the logic of risk in global security practices. In my view, the most important finding of these analyses show that the impact of ‘risk’ in shaping security post-9/11 renders the War on Terror far more than an assemblage of policies. It represents the advent of a cultureof fear and suspicion based on society’s understanding and engagement with the risk posed by terrorism. In other words: by thinking of terrorism through the logic of risk, we render ourselves incapable of human empathy and find ourselves accepting more violence, more surveillance and an increasingly hollow legal system of accountability simply because we are scared of what might happen.

Donald Rumsfeld (2002): ‘the message is that there are no knowns. There are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns…but there are also unknown unknowns – things we don’t know we don’t know’.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Photo: New York Magazine)

Rumsfeld’s quotation reveals that in the extreme conditions of uncertainty post-9/11, policy-makers are no longer able to guarantee predictability, security and control. The result of this infiltration of fear into decision-making has resulted in a paranoid global phenomenon whereby security officials are 'given' an imperative to act in advance of any possession of evidence. As outlined by President Bush in 2002 and pursued with a vengeance by Obama, this ‘not only means dealing with real immediate threats; it also means anticipating threats before they occur.' This conceptual shift in 'security think' is epitomized by the global network of over fifty countries involved in the pre-emptory practices of pre-charge detention and extraordinary rendition, and the internment of hundreds of men without charge or trial in locations such as Guantánamo Bay (OSJI report, 2013).

The overall effect of the application of risk-logic to security is not to be underestimated. Risk-logic ultimately transforms security practices into complex social practices: it changes the way we live and the way we interact with each other. This blog series will attempt to illuminate how this way of thinking has profoundly affected society. In order to have a concrete starting point, I will show how risk-logic affects the work of human rights organizations working to combat the seep of human rights violations endemic to the WoT. By the end of this series, I hope to convey an insight into the poisonous forces of risk at work in society, and how this wholesale cultural change affects traditional methods of checking the balance of power in the world we live in.

Sabine Selchow has put forward a very useful framework of four inter-linked dynamics for looking at the transformative effect of risk-logic on society– what this blog post will be based on (see  Selchow 2014; also Loughnan and Selchow 2013). As it’s useful to understand these dynamics separately, I’ll first briefly outline each one. Then, in the coming weeks I’ll zoom in on each dynamic and show how it translates into everyday life, as well as how it affects relations of power between the state and society.

1. The decoupling of political decision-making from actuality

The obsessive desire of security officials to regain control post-9/11 means that risk-logic locates its temporality in the future, therefore effectively separating political acts from having to address an actual, or tangible threat. The advent of the idea of risk as a means of governing thus coincides with a security apparatus that no longer seeks to prevent, order or withhold, but instead to pre-empt (Amoore & DeGoede, 2008). Once institutions shift their focus from addressing existing threats to potential threats in the future, they are duty-bound to assume responsibility for control. This means that it is no longer possible to determine if a threatening event would have happened without the risk-based pre-emptory action, as risk-based action is always in the realm of the unknown. This pre-emptory stance that ultimately depoliticizes security policy, is summed up by Blair’s 2004 response to criticism of the pre-emptive war in Iraq: ‘…would you prefer us to act, even if it turns out to be wrong? Or not to act and hope it’s OK?’

2. The Depoliticization of Security

As touched upon in the previous section, the application of risk to security essentially depoliticizes policy-making. Firstly, the temporality of risk-based decisions means that the policy-maker is able to present issues as needing immediate action in the face of extreme uncertainty and risk of catastrophic damage. The net result of this is that issues related to terrorism have to be presented as capable of being controlled. This fetishization of control is situated firmly in the political imagination, as terrorism is ultimately ‘a risk beyond risk’ that cannot be measured (Aradau & VanMunster 2008:23). The ‘unexceptional’ (according to the United Kingdom's Home Office in 2006) nature of attackers, such as the 9/11, Madrid and 7/7 bombers, render creation of any risk models based on identifiable characteristics of ‘terrorists’ impossible. Mythen and Walklate (2008) stress that the calculus of risk post 9/11 is directed by a projective ‘what if?’ position whereby presumption of innocence metamorphoses into a presumption of guilt. Since risk models cannot be modeled on abnormality this suggests that the government will have to screen everybody equally. In reality, whilst this may sound appealing, this essentially submerges individual cases into types based on factors of risk, ultimately creating ‘new’ risk assessed identities: it is no longer necessary to actually see the person one… judges (Krassman, 2007).

3. Internalization of security issues and the process of responsibilization

Through the application of risk logic, global security threats are no longer the sole remit of government security agencies, but become a responsibility for every citizen as part of lived, everyday experience. This dynamic is most clearly seen in government campaigns worldwide urging citizens to report anything that arouses suspicion, leading ordinary people to absorb the responsibility of securing their state. Public and private, internal and external are now boundaries that have been profoundly blurred, leading to a politics of normalcy inherent to risk-based modes of governance (Amoore & DeGoede). Being ‘normal’, as defined by the U.K.’s Metropolitan Police is now a political act whereby the citizen not only protects their country by reporting anything ‘abnormal’, but actively defends themselves from suspicion as a terrorist. This action is all the more powerfully embedded in society through the explosion of panoptic surveillance put in motion by the application of risk logic to security.

4. The dynamic of the expansion of ‘securitization’

The fourth dynamic of risk is the expansionary and unlimited nature of its mandate. As discussed, the logic of risk implies an imperative to act – to be seen to be doing something in the face of the uncertainty posed by the terrorist threat. This imperative inevitably feeds an expanding process of securitization, whereby a wider array of issues are deemed to be security threats. However, as risk-based decisions are not ‘tamed’ by an accompanying actuality or event, this instates a process of unlimited risk-based action. Risks are ‘infinite because they multiply over time since one can always do more to prevent them from becoming real’ (Rasmussen 2006:4); risk-logic thus always produces the sense of further uncertainties. This leads to an insatiable quest for ‘more and better knowledge of risk’ (Ericson & Hoggarty, 1997:85). This risk assessment however, has to draw on past experiences in order to address an imagination of the future. Therefore, previous knowledge is always incomplete, thus driving a governance of risk yearning for ever greater knowledge. The population wholesale is thus securitized in an ever-expanding process that has a profound impact on society.

Although this is an extremely brief outline of the dynamics underlying the shift in global security policy post-9/11, the next installments in this blog will explore each in further detail and clarify the profoundly social impact of security policy by looking at the difficulties faced by human rights organizations in combating the curtailment of freedoms post-9/11. The following blog posts will aim to illustrate the deep cuts that risk-logic has made in the way that society all over the world thinks by linking risk-logic to power relations. Ultimately, the fight against counter-terror policy is no longer solely in the governmental arena; the real fight is against the pervasive culture of fear and suspicion that underlies the relations between ordinary, innocent people every day.

Aditi Gupta

Aditi Gupta graduated with an MSc in Global Politics (Civil Society) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Autumn 2013.  She has previously worked at Soul Rebel Films and Reprieve and has co-authored reports based on depth interviews conducted for the Indian development NGO, CHIRAG. Aditi has volunteered for refugee and homelessorganizations in the UK and is developing a career in the human rights field. This is the first in her five-part series to be published on Crimcast.  It will appear weekly from January 7, 2014.

Exploring Criminal Justice and Colonialism in Bahrain

Nickie Phillips

Bahraini policewomen on the eve of the country's independence from Britain (1971; Photo: Bahrain Weekly)

In Bahrain, the criminal justice system we see today is a direct result of the colonial encounter -- a situation not acknowledged enough in current scholarship, and in desperate need of a critical voyage to the imperial archives.

Staci Strobl, Co-founder Crimcast

Eight years ago, when I was conducting an ethnography of Bahraini policewomen, I attempted to refer to secondary sources as to the criminal justice history of the small country, particularly regarding the development of policewomen.  Unfortunately, I found only sanitized, un-critical sources that picked up at a colonial moment as if nothing strange or disruptive had ever happened before that, for naturally a European-style criminal justice system, complete with bureaucratic forms to handle a "gender problem," was completely sensible in this distant land.

The field of comparative criminal justice remains under-developed relative to other criminal justice endeavors.  The last decade has seen a proliferation of encyclopedic volumes designed to fill in the descriptive gap, but detailed analytical pieces, particularly from non-western countries which are sufficiently historically contextualized, remain scant.  Bahrain is no exception.

To augment my ethnographic data, I made my way to the Historical Documents Center in Riffa', Bahrain and poured through colonial documents in order to uncover the policing past. 

Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifah, ruler of Bahrain from 1961-99

In the end, I was left with the historian's task (though I am not a trained historian) of interpreting some ambiguous and contradictory claims in primary sources by various important actors of the day from the

Al-Khalifah royal family to the political consultant from the 1920s-50s, Sir Charles Belgrave. Policewomen were a British legacy of gender liberalism at the time of de-colonization, I argued, but were palpable to local Bahrainis as a means of serving conservative populations who appreciate traditional sex segregation.

Along the way, I vowed to one day be the more general criminal justice historian I needed for my then-specific, ethnographic mission.  It has taken several years to get around to the task, but this year I will be spending enough time in England to follow up on the many interesting threads first encountered in the Bahrain historical center, having time to review the vernacular file of the India Office records of the British Library (Bahrain was administered under the India Office during the early 20th century).

Charles-Belgrave2

We take as natural that police should have uniforms, that punishment should involve concrete cages called prisons, that judges should sit at benches in standing courts.  But in non-European contexts this was often not the indigenous way of maintaining social order and punishing deviance.  Max Weber callously maligned the palm tree justice of the Arab world, but in fact, in the Arabian Gulf it was an effective method for maintaining the peace in the wake of fluid tribal alliances and shifting economic endeavors.  The qadi under the tree, eclipsed by Belgrave's push to "rationalize" Bahraini justice, had political and religious legitimacy that could never be replaced by the modern colonial machine-- a machine that remains contested today in the Arab spring.

The seeds of today's opposition in Bahrain stem from colonial days.  Patterns of police employment of Sunni individuals over Shi'a were cemented in the late colonial period as punishment for Shi'a involvement in the National Union Committee and earlier revolutionary attempts, buffeted by head of the British colonial police in Bahrain and later State Security (1966-97), Ian Henderson (linked to police torture of Shi'a activists).  The political cache of hiring outside consultants-- Belgrave and Henderson then and John Yates and John Timoney more recently-- stem from the early 20th century rival Gulf monarchies' boasts of powerful foreign friends.  Playing up an overblown Iranian threat is a at least hundred-year old trope that the West swallows over and over again.

Ian Henderson, British police consultant to Bahrain linked to torture (photo: The Telegraph)

The Al-Khalifah royal family and advisors like Belgrave made very concrete political decisions throughout the 20th century that unraveled the fabric of traditional means of maintaining order and achieving justice.  It was disruptive to social and political relations as they had been operating for centuries previous, not a natural or teleological development as many mainstream scholars have assumed.

My archival research at the British Library and at University of Exeter will hopefully help to uncover what existed before the colonial experience and how it was eclipsed.  I hope to better document from whence Bahrain criminal justice came-- at least in the way that it may have been understood and misunderstood by British political agents.

It is here, though, that one often uncovers indigenous voices that have been lost in the paperwork-- testimonies of elder tribespeople, oral laws written down at a certain colonial period of time, etc.  But can an understanding of the old ways, themselves fluid and changing over time, be recovered?

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is certainly right to haunt us with the notion that all this historical

Bahrain court sketch from the trial of 21 opposition movement leaders in June of 2011 (www.twentyfoursevennews.com)movement leaders in June of 2011 (www.twentyfoursevennews.com)

back-tracking just leads us to the brick wall of a "tearing of time" in which the colonial encounter in all its "docketing" of the cultural and political threads ends up obscuring that which existed before it.  Or, in the word of Homi Bhabha, we cannot begin to make sense of an “imperial aporia” that described indigenous lacunae through a very thick and cloudy lens of colonial paternalism.

All of this seems like a very tall order for four months of research abroad, but perhaps all such endeavors start off exalted and then whittle themselves down to bite-size pieces.  In any case, it will be a bit of geek-joy to sit in the British library with old, colonial letters, and ponder a time gone by.

Series on archival research in criminal justice

This is the fifth in a 5-part series appearing throughout 2013 focusing on the often game-changing discoveries that come out of archival work in the realm of police, courts, and corrections.  The other four parts can be found here:

Is Your College Professor a War Criminal?

Nickie Phillips

CUNY students protest the award given last night to former General David Petreus, honored by John Jay College under the theme

...And if so, is it an educational opportunity or a travesty?

Dozens of students protested John Jay College's Educating for Justice Gala award given to Former General David Petraeus on October 16th. Petraeus had already ignited a City University of New York (CUNY) controversy over his stint as an adjunct professor at Baruch College, teaching a seminar called "Are We on the Threshold of the North American Decade?" where he was originally slated to earn approximately $150,000. The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee who organized the demonstration explained their outrage at his justice gala award:

"...this for a man who brought the 'Salvador option' of death squads and torture centers to Iraq, where the forces he commanded slaughtered hundreds of thousands. As commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Petraeus rained death on Afghan civilians. As CIA chief, he was the architect of almost 3,000 'targeted killings' by drones. This is the spymaster, mass murderer, death squad and torture organizer the CUNY Board of Trustees appointed to 'teach' public policy... Now he is being feted at a veritable 'war gala' that makes a bloody mockery of the words 'education' and 'justice.'"

The faculty union, PSC-CUNY, maintained critical pressure on the university and pointed out that public, tax payer money was being used to pay Petraeus over 30 times the market rate for an adjunct professor. He subsequently agreed to being paid only $1. Meanwhile, six students were arrested and caught on video being beaten by NYPD cops during protests against the Petraeus professorship last month. As a result, CUNY is tightening its "Expressive activity" policy, a draft of which is working its way through university governance now-- and so far appears to be designed to protect the Petraeuses of the world over the student demonstrators.

In some ways, it might be interesting to learn from Petraeus about the decision-making behind the War(s) on Terror even if one thinks he acted criminally-- how better to understand unpunished crime and deviance than to meet a perpetrator face-to-face in a safe environment? Academia is sometimes a place that gives the pulpit to less than savory characters for the purposes of open debate and education, much like the controversial talk at Columbia University by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a few years back.

But an award for justice? Crimcast thinks this goes too far-- as did many John Jay faculty and students who were surprised to hear Petraeus was even being considered for an award, let alone being given it. Unfortunately, because the fund-raising gala is entirely under the purview of the college's auxiliary corporation (a non-profit private entity connected to the college for purposes of raising funds), the decision to award Petraeus occurred outside the normal shared-governance process and was decided by a few administrators and token members of the community who sit on the auxiliary corporation's board.

Sadly, John Jay College, in seeking to raise its profile and pad its coffers, lost sight of the moral problem of honoring a controversial person who has blood on his hands, lending a veneer of respectability and even moral commendation to drone attacks and military home invasions. Of all the people out in the world epitomizing "justice," it would seem there were hundreds, if not thousands, of better choices than a man who orchestrates wars. Was the Dalai Lama not available?

Environmental Justice at Stake in Canadian Provincial Election

Nickie Phillips

Sierra Club of Canada

Crimcast caught up with environmental activist John Wimberly who alerted us to an upcoming critical vote for the anti-fracking movement in Nova Scotia, Canada. As the documentaries Gasland and Gasland II have shown, regular people's access to fresh, clean water and unspoiled natural spaces have been threatened in U.S. states like Pennsylvania and North Dakota where corporate interests have been making big money off a risky form of extracting natural gas from deep underground in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Recent protests in England flared up at the prospect of fracking companies operating there for the first time. Canadians are wrestling with the same problem-- is short-term profit worth risking a natural habitat in the long-term? As John Wimberly explains:

Preventing fracking is tremendously important, especially in a small province like Nova Scotia. We have varied geology and nowhere to retreat if we experience a worst-case scenario event, like a spill of waste-water or a polluted water table. As such, many citizens have been pushing for a ban or moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing.

Unfortunately, a legislated moratorium or ban does not have any guarantee of stopping it from happening. These laws are made by the provincial government and can be removed by the provincial government if it so suits its interests. The only way to prevent fracking is by having a provincial government that is committed to the same goal.

NS fracking

With a provincial election nearing its final week, this is where I point out who the best option will be. It’s the New Democratic Party (NDP), the current provincial government and Canada’s foremost left-leaning political party. By a long-shot. No fracking is going on in Nova Scotia because they created a moratorium. They’ve also initiated two studies into fracking on the environmental and human health impacts. Beyond treating fracking as a public relations issue, it fits in line with their environmental policy: banning uranium mining, hugely increasing the amount of protected lands in Nova Scotia, and moving us toward renewable energy. This is all in stark contrast to the alternative, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, who – if the polls are any indication – are likely to form the next government.

The Liberals are directly misinforming Nova Scotians in their platform by claiming they were the ones who initiated a moratorium that the NDP opposed. On fracking, they’re even lying in their platform. Their leader, Stephen McNeil, opposed the NDP’s expansion of protected land, suggesting that what we needed was a “moratorium on protecting land.” McNeil and the mining industry were the only ones opposed to this protection – and now he might be the next premier.

Of the greatest concern is the Liberal plan for U.S.-style deregulation of Nova Scotia Power. While there is certainly support for his broadly-stated call to “break the monopoly” of Nova Scotia Power, there are obvious consequences that directly undermine the interests of Nova Scotians – especially those concerned about environmental issues, fossil fuel use, and our contributions toward climate change. The Liberal plan to deregulate would remove our ability to continue to mandate a switch to renewable energy – which is both an environmental and fiscal issue for our province, as the cost of the coal we’re currently using is quickly increasing.

Infographic by Lucy Kim

And who makes up each party? The NDP, while not delivering a perfect environmental record, have environmentalists as a core-constituency and they occupy the highest levels of the party. They have also spent the vast majority of their political capital on switching to renewable energy – popular for being clean, green, and providing stable rates, but very unpopular for being more expensive than the coal we burn now.

The Liberals candidates and record is deeply troubling. One of their Halifax candidates declared that Nova Scotia should become a world innovation capital for fracking, and that he would pursue “green fracking”, a process that even the most unapologetic oil baron hasn’t suggested as ‘something that exists.’ In rural Nova Scotia, they have a candidate who has promised to bring liquid natural gas ports to the coastal community for trans-Atlantic shipping. Poorly thought-out plans like “the free-market will solve the problem” U.S.-style deregulation, combined with candidates that seem squarely opposed to moving away from fossil fuels, leads me to believe that the right decision for voters is clear-- go with the NDP.

The NDP have been far from perfect, and they have, especially recently, been very open about that. They didn’t live up to the expectations many of us had for them. But they remain the best choice for Nova Scotians, especially those concerned about environmental issues.

20130311-133059.jpg

John Wimberly is a social, political, and environmental activist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He works for the NDP and also as a freelance writer. He is a regular contributor to Crimcast.

An Eye Opening "Breakfast with Mugabe"

Nickie Phillips

Photo Credit: Joseph Henry Ritter

by Demetra M. Pappas, JD, MSc, PhD, correspondent

Barely two weeks ago, on August 22, 2013, Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was sworn in for another five year term, extending a tenure which has already lasted 33 years. Reports of the election practices deployed (from not releasing ballots until the day before the July 31 election, to paper only to voters being turned away) were reported on in a way that had Mugabe’s +30% victory over rival Morgan Tsvangirai making the United States election (or not) of George W. Bush and the case of Bush v. Gore look like kindergarten;

for one such example of reportage, see “Taking Oath, Mugabe Adds to His Rule of Zimbabwe,” by Lydia Polgreen, writing for The New York Times. Indeed, Mugabe’s presidency has been marked by tumult and chaos and what might be viewed as reverse colonialism in repatriating lands from the former white elite minority to the black population, so much so that some universities which had awarded him honorary doctorates revoked them (for example, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Edinburgh and Michigan State University, for reasons relating to corruption, human rights abuses and disregard for the democratic process) as well as revocation of honors by Queen Elizabeth (previously bestowed for Mugabe’s fostering of good relations between Britain and Zimbabwe and revoked for abuse of the democratic process and human rights violations). Such a man, whether viewed as a crusader or a folk devil, makes for drama in reality and in dramaturgy.

This excellent Off-Broadway play (Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, Pershing Square Signature Center,

Photo Credit: Joseph Henry Ritter

480 West 42nd Street, 212-279-4200) is written by Fraser Grace. To me, the piece is one part African nationalist revolutionary movement (with most of the violence inferred) and one part The King’s Speech. It imagines Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, a black African revolutionary leader (not in the mold of the now-ailing pacifistic Nelson Mandela, who was also jailed at length) finds himself in Colin Firth’s King George V therapeutic positions. That is to say that the therapeutic language and training (first name of patient, a big controversy in both this play and the Oscar-winning movie script) is elegantly articulated (in both English and tribal languages) during the 110 minute play (the Playbill calls it 90 minutes, but the play runs a bit longer). As an aside, I note that there is also a very useful “Glossary of Shona and Culturally Specific Terms” included in the notes.

There is only one scenic location here – an elegant well-appointed reception room of now-President Mugabe’s Presidential Palace. The chandelier alone is a show stopper (and talking point as audience members enter the theater), and lighting designer Joyce Liao uses it to great effect on Lee Savage’s set. This room is where white psychiatrist Andrew Peric (Ezra Barnes, a study in restraint and composure) is summarily ordered by Mugabe’s secretary-turned-wife Grace (the imperious Rosalyn Coleman) to give therapy to Mugabe (Michael Rogers, whose bullying tantrums and stresses would do Tony Soprano proud, albeit another continent and social setting).

A great deal of time is spent here, as with The King’s Speech, on the fact that the patient should be referred to by his first name, and that time boundaries are to be honored. These small matters of traditional therapy raise eyebrows (and voices) here, as well as stopping the conversation of wife Grace and bodyman Gabriel (lethally played by Che Ayende). Grace’s alternatively played splendid royal and bullying bride is well-matched by Gabriel’s physical and psychological threats of the man who would reluctantly be psychiatrist.

Mugabe engages in a litany of patient-inappropriate behaviors (as one who has written and taught on medical sociology, I can say that many a doctor would have discharged him as a patient, with a sigh of relief). Some behaviors are presidentially inappropriate, too (using his office to ferret out the doctor’s finances and personal life, family history and romantic present, for purposes of bullying him). Unlike the emerging trust and mutual work that emerges between King George and “Lionel” (the not-quite-a-doctor Logue), in this production the audience is confronted by a continuing erosion of trust and numerous betrayals (not by the doctor) of the therapeutic trust relationship. In a parallel story line, which I will not spoil by repeating, “Violence Consultant” J. David Brimmer does a superb and frighteningly realistic visual and auditory set of interchanges.

Watching the psychiatrist (regardless of race) be subjected to the inappropriate conduct of the patient, the wife and the bodyman is painful; once the politics of race and nationalism are factored in, they are predictive of the devastating, irrevocable personal and professional losses the doctor will have to endure, even as Mugabe (and company) go onto political, economic and social gain.

Photo Credit: Joseph Henry Ritter

Hard to watch, yet essential to do, I would send friends (indeed, I already have), family, colleagues and students to see this production, which has the same cast as the 2010 production. There is a fair amount of history, culture and emerging land rights (and wrongs) in the play, well worth absorbing. I would be especially keen to learn the comments of my former colleague during graduate school years, Dr. Bruce Cauthen, whose work was on the sociology of nations and nationalism, and included a case study of South Africa, one very different from the one examined in this play.

Demetra Pappas was named the 2011/2012 SGA Faculty Member of the Year at St. Francis College for her work in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her recent book, Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America: The Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide Debate, (Greenwood Press, 2012) (100 year study of US and UK doctors prosecuted for medical euthanasia/assisted suicide and role of media) was recently nominated, for the 2014 International Qualitative Inquiry Book Prize and was nominated and short listed, British Society of Criminology 2013 Criminology Book Prize.

Sculpting Doughboys: Militarism, Manhood, and Memorials of WWI

Nickie Phillips

Jennifer Wingate

Crimcast sat down with Dr. Jennifer Wingate, an assistant professor in the International Cultural Studies, Foreign Languages, Fine Arts department at St. Francis College. Dr. Wingate recently published Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials (2013), a book that explores memorials and sculptures, or "doughboys," in the United States in the aftermath of World War I.

In your work, you mention that World War I memorials and sculptures often celebrated militaristic ideals in ways that overshadowed the tragedy of war. Can you give a brief example of what you mean by this?

Especially in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, sculptural memorials were triumphant and heroic, often featuring actively fighting soldiers rather than mournful or dying soldiers. The emphasis was on belligerent themes rather than on loss and suffering. Many communities erected simple honor rolls (lists of names of the dead), but those who went through the trouble of raising money to erect sculptures needed to satisfy many different constituencies, including veterans and their families. Even though only a small percentage of US WWI soldiers actually saw combat (compared with Civil War soldiers for example), civilians and veterans alike equated male citizenship and service with rifles and bayonets. It was important for public memorials to reinforce that ideal of unwavering heroism. In my book, I also argue that the fighting soldier stood as a symbol of protection and vigilance during the postwar red scare. One memorial designer in particular, who sold over a hundred copies of his fighting soldier, advertised his memorial design as a sign of anti-radicalism.

In the aftermath of World War I, in what ways did the heroism of the memorials and sculptures relate to the broader visual culture of the era? 

Fighting soldiers and fit, healthy, and strong veterans were everywhere in the visual culture of the era, from movies and advertisements to sheet music covers. The year 1919 was a time of economic and social upheaval.  Returning soldiers who survived the war and the flu epidemic, faced unemployment and serious racial tensions. Memorials featuring stoic and virile soldiers served as reassuring beacons of stability and familiarity.

In your book, you mention that the doughboy sculptures reveal more than just "simple commemorations of the sacrifices of U.S. troops," and offer insight into the public's notion of manhood and strength. In what ways were these characteristics rendered in the sculptures and what are the racial implications of these representations?

Sculpting Doughboys

As with the previously dedicated Civil War memorials, these soldier sculptures were intended to represent universal notions of manhood, and in the 1920s in the United States, that still meant white manhood. It had been very important for African American enlisted men to fight rather than serve exclusively in labor battalions. However, only those regiments who fought with the French escaped the worst discrimination during their service. There were efforts to erect memorials to honor African American soldiers, but most were never realized. Chicago and Philadelphia dedicated two notable exceptions. The history of the Bronzeville memorial in Chicago is interesting because the memorial did not feature a fighting soldier at first, but three bronze reliefs depicting an African American warrior standing with shield and sword and personifications of Motherhood and Columbia. Later, the artist added a freestanding sculpture of a fighting soldier in response to community dissatisfaction with the original design, which was perceived as too “passive.”

Sculptors often subscribed to pseudoscientific beliefs that equated physical type with race, class, and national character. Examples abound of sculptors striving to achieve the postwar ideal of “100% Americanism” by portraying “American” type soldiers and of critics lauding memorial designs for capturing the authentic “American” man.

In what ways were sculptors, specifically those that were inclined to produce anti-war or pacifist art, constrained in their work?

Sculptors who did not want to celebrate war and militarism in their memorial designs had a bit more flexibility starting around 1921, but even then any pacifist sentiment that they expressed had to be open-ended and subtle. Public art is an art of consensus, and the politics of the interwar period were too complicated to allow for stridently pacifist commemorative statements. There are exceptions, but for the most part, sculptors who were unwilling to compromise their anti-war statements, did not succeed in realizing public memorials. Interestingly, some of the most striking exceptions were women sculptors, who were already working at a disadvantage in the field of public military sculpture. Anna Coleman Ladd, who had worked in France during the war making tin masks for disfigured veterans, dedicated an unusually gruesome memorial featuring a skeleton hanging from the barbed wire of no-man’s-land. The memorial was dedicated in a cemetery, and so did not have the visibility of a more public memorial located in a town square or park. The American Legion Post that commissioned it specifically requested a memorial that represented “the truth about war.”

The collaboration between the Governor of Maine, Percival Baxter, and the sculptor, Bashka Paeff, proved even more fortuitous. Like Ladd, Paeff felt very strongly that memorials should not glorify war. Baxter, who chose Paeff’s design for the state of Maine, agreed that memorials should teach the lessons of war’s violence. Paeff’s bronze relief features a female allegory of Civilization shielding her baby from the destruction of war.  Exceedingly rare for a U.S. war memorial, it also depicts the bodies of two dead soldiers. By the time the memorial was complete, the new governor (Baxter’s successor) objected to the relief’s pacifism, and according to one journalist, the pacifist ideas “current among women.” Notions of “patriotic motherhood” were promoted in the visual culture of the war, and women who did not willingly give their sons to the nation could be accused of radicalism.

You primarily used the Smithsonian Institution Inventory of American Sculpture database and files and artists’ papers in the Archives of American Art. Can you tell us some of the challenges you faced in doing this kind of archival research? Do you have any recommendations for other researchers wishing to use these archives?

The Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) database is a good place to start, and it is continuously updated, but it’s important to try to go to local sources as well, like regional historical societies, and to artists’ papers, which typically include project files and correspondence with the memorial committee. The Smithsonian Inventory of American Sculpture also has files on public memorials throughout the country that were inventoried during a “Save Outdoor Sculpture!” survey in the 1990s. They contain photos, miscellaneous clippings, and related information. I was very lucky to have a fellowship at the Smithsonian, which gave me regular access to those files and photographs in DC. Also, many of the Smithsonian’s photographs are being digitized now, so it’s easier, teamed with online resources like Flickr, to actually see what these memorials look like. Even so, pretty much every source is incomplete. To put the story of a single memorial commission together, I usually needed to consult multiple sources. The Library of Congress has the papers of sculptor Daniel Chester French, for example, but the National Archives has the papers of the Fine Arts Commission, which was heavily involved with French’s projects and proposals for the capital as well as with those of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (whose papers are at the Archives of American Art).

Because many of the sculptors who made WWI memorials are lesser known than French and Whitney, I had to use a lot of papers that were never microfilmed (or digitized). In the case of the Boston-based artist Bashka Paeff, I tracked down her papers at the home of one of her nephews (with the help of a fellow art historian). The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art recently acquired some of those papers, but when collections are broken up, challenges are raised for future researchers. Now Paeff’s papers presumably are well organized and more accessible, but some pertinent items are located at other repositories, like the Massachusetts College of Art and Design library in Boston. Projects like this require a lot of persistence and detective work. My advice would be, even in an era of increasing digitization, not to rely on databases, and to exhaust all possible sources. Even though regional newspapers can be searched in excellent databases at the Library of Congress, there’s still obviously a lot of value in browsing and reading papers on microfilm.  Another helpful source for me was the monument trade journal, The Monumental News. I used to read it at the Science, Industry, and Business branch of the New York Public Library, but now those volumes are located off-site and recently one volume that I was looking for was missing. Hopefully, before too many more go missing, they can be digitized for online access!

What projects are you currently working on? Can we expect more work from you on other war memorials? 

I think my work on memorials may be complete for the time being, though I remain committed to public art and to art that’s used, enjoyed, and viewed outside museums and galleries. Though I’m a museum junkie and I appreciate “art for art’s sake,” the “high/low” distinction has always been a thorn in my side. When I was l growing up, Norman Rockwell was my favorite artist, but the art establishment has only relatively recently accepted his work as embodying legitimate artistic concerns. I’ve been thinking a lot about “social practice” art for a class I’m teaching, Art of Social Change. What interests me about this art is that it raises so many questions about the definition of art and how one evaluates art that deals more with ethics than aesthetics. There’s something irritating about these conversations and that’s always the sign of a good new project.

archive

This is the third in a 5-part series appearing throughout 2013 focusing on the often game-changing discoveries that come out of archival work in the realm of criminology and criminal justice.

“The People Want the Reform of the Regime!”: Sectarianism and Protest Movements in the Arabian Gulf

Nickie Phillips

Toby-Matthiesen-Photo (2)

Crimcast spoke with Toby Matthiesen, Research Fellow in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge (England) and author of Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t(2013). His book presents a detailed account of the protest movements in the Gulf Arab monarchies of Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia in the last few years, explaining how the movements formed, what they hoped to achieve, and why they have been unsuccessful in creating substantial reform or regime change. In particular, the book focuses on Gulf governments’ use of Shi’a and Sunni sectarian political tension to shore up the status quo and delegitimize the potential for change.  

You describe a “new sectarianism” that has emerged alongside the Arab spring movements. What do you mean by this?

This new sectarianism spread around the region since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But the sectarianism unleashed to counter the Arab Spring, by regimes in the Gulf, in Syria, and elsewhere, has reached new levels and has become worse than ever. States now think strategically in sectarian terms, and social bonds in many mixed Middle Eastern societies have broken down almost completely.

"The people want the reform of the regime!" was a chant repeated in the Pearl Roundabout during the Bahrain Spring movement in February 2011.  You were on the ground during many of the demonstrations in Bahrain in early 2011. What impressed you most about the Bahrainis who took to the streets to demand human rights and democracy in their country?

That the movement was initially very peaceful, and that it seemed to try to be as inclusive as possible, crossing sectarian and generational boundaries. And that people dared to defy power and risk their lives just to show that they wanted to live under a different political system.

Of particular interest to Crimcast is the role of police and security forces in suppressing the movements. What did you witness of the government crackdown?

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Particularly in Bahrain, the role of the security forces was key. Much of the security apparatus consists of foreign mercenaries, particularly South-East Asians or other Arabs, and as such are totally dependent on and loyal to their patrons in the country, the royal family. This make-up of the Bahraini security forces is a historical product of Bahrain's position within the British empire, and a pre-emptive strategy of making Bahrain secure against army coups (as outlined recently by Strobl and Louër in two very informative articles) .

What were some of the criminal charges and punishments meted out for opposition figures in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia? Are any of the opposition figures still imprisoned today?

The charges range from insulting the ruler, to spreading rumors on social media, inciting hatred, undermining national security, and conspiring with foreign powers, and they are all spelled out in very Orwellian terms. The discourse directed against dissenters and opposition groups in the Gulf has become increasingly totalitarian, with "others" being described as "filth", a "fifth column", or "malicious elements". Sadly, much of this language is addressed against the local Shia Muslims, and has become mixed up with derogatory religious hate-speech.

Across the Gulf, opposition figures have been put in jail, most notably in Bahrain, where a so-called "cell of 21" opposition leaders has been convicted, some of them to life sentences, for inspiring the uprising in 2011.

What has changed since the Arab spring movements began? Will they ultimately be successful or have they stalled?

The outcomes of the Arab spring are still unpredictable. But it is quite clear that the language of politics in the Middle East has changed, probably forever, and governments will eventually have to come to terms with this. At the moment it looks like the counter-revolution has gained the upper hand, in Egypt, Syria, and the Gulf, but the processes that have been set in motion are not going to be stopped from one day to the other, and street politics has already become the most powerful force in Arab politics.

What are you working on these days? Will we see more from you about Gulf social justice and political change?

I am working on a political history of the Shia in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, a book that is based on my PhD dissertation. Thereafter, I want to work on the Gulf in the Cold War era, and the history of the leftist and Arab nationalist movements in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.

Toby Matthiesen is a Research Fellow in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Pembroke College, at the University of Cambridge. He has published in The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Middle East Journal, and Middle East Report, and has done extensive fieldwork in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. He previously worked as a Gulf Consultant for the International Crisis Group.

When Police Corruption is Normal: Brazil's Criminal Justice Challenge

Nickie Phillips

police-brutality-on-kids brazil

Guest post by Amanda Higazi

Police corruption, though condemned by the international community, is a transnational problem that continues to impede justice. In comparison, although both Brazil and the United States of America suffer from police corruption, the sheer prevalence of corrupt practices displayed in Brazil demand the implementation of reform measures. Modifications should be made that incorporate civilian oversight, training, effective classroom instruction, pilot programs, and an innovative system of checks and balances within the Brazilian police force.

Research shows that Brazil has violated fundamental human rights in breach of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture which was ratified in 2007. Police abuse and torture allegations have been so prominent in prisoner facilities that they are believed to have been what incited the creation of the First Command of the Capital (PCC), arguably Brazil’s most powerful prison gang. There are also routine assassinations of street children and random civilians by police. Furthermore, there is a growing epidemic of police cover-ups for routine assassinations that often get documented on police reports as resisting arrest or retaliatory gang fire. In addition to this, there is an unlawful practice of police tampering and/or destroying evidence.

Since Brazil is only a recently democratized country, the preceding dictatorship has been effective in instilling a code of silence assumed by its citizens. Brazilians continue to live in a perpetual state of fear since witnesses are not welcome to speak out about their police or government. Due to nature of retaliatory killings by police death squads for anyone who questions the regime, there is essentially no witness protection offered. Although both the United States and Brazil evidently have a pervasive trend of police corruption, it appears to be a more prominent concern for the latter because of the severity-- and sense of normalcy-- the citizens have associated with it. Although this appears to be an inextricable quandary there has been considerable effort made towards reform.

My research has addressed the scope of these reformations, considering many of which are mirrored after programs implemented in the United States, such as civilian complaint review boards and increased police training.  Within this context, my research also addressed the rudimentary elements that are present within the society that enable police corruption to continue, as well as some of the efforts already underway to combat it. For example, the Sao Paulo government's requirement that police contact emergency response teams for assistance and treatment at the scenes of shootings, and prohibiting them from altering the scene or removing victims, will go a long way to prevent cover-ups of police abuse.  The policy should be national.  In an effort to create a better tomorrow, it is imperative that all injustices are brought to light today.

Amanda Higazi JJAY MA ICJ BLOG POST PIC

Amanda Higazi is a Masters student in the International Crime and Justice program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is an advocate for international human rights and seeks to ameliorate impunity within the criminal justice system which often challenges the protection of civil liberties.

Good Diplomacy: Why Israel Should Consider a Prisoner Transfer Program

Nickie Phillips

Gaza-Jericho agreement

Guest post by Ariel Bigio

In the United States and Israel, discourse about the goals of prisoner transfer is often framed in a security context. How prisoner transfers are discussed by national leaders reveals justifications, both in terms of bringing people home and transferring others to their home countries. For the United States, the motivation behind prisoner transfer stems from protecting American citizens imprisoned abroad. Israel’s security context is more military based-- a social and political issue involving soldiers and terrorism. The United States has a general prisoner transfer program while Israel engages in one-time transfers on a case-by-case basis.  Israel would benefit from developing a prisoner transfer program because it is another diplomatic tool that a state can utilize in its arsenal in strengthening international relations and garnering further trust.

The United States’ prisoner transfer program is run through the Department of Justice in the International Prisoner Transfer Unit (IPTU). The program began in 1977 through a bilateral treaty between the United States and Mexico. There are two aims for prisoner transfer. The first is that rehabilitation will be better served in the offenders’ home country where they can be closer to family and friends. The second aim is to provide more humane conditions than those found in foreign prisons where inmates are faced with a new culture, language, and standard of prison life. An article from April 11 published on the United States Courts website gives a great summary of the benefits to Americans of prisoner transfer.

Israel is not unfamiliar with prisoner transfers; however these have been in the context of one-time agreements, and not a general policy.  Under the Gaza- Jericho agreement of 1994, Israel agreed to release 5,000 Palestinian prisoners as part of the negotiation process. In 2008, Israel exchanged five Lebanese prisoners and 199 Lebanese bodies buried in the North of Israel in exchange for two bodies of Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah. In 2011, 1,027 prisoners were transferred to Gaza, the West Bank, or abroad in exchange for a captured Israeli solider named Gilad Shalit. These transfers or exchanges are precipitated by a negotiation with an intended outcome. In comparison, the United States transfer program is an agreement between countries that promotes transfer and precedes the necessity for negotiation.

Ariel Bigio

While there are definite criticisms of the implementation of the United States’ transfer policy, the importance of these treaties is paramount for setting precedence and enabling other avenues of communication and cooperation between foreign governments. This is an important tool that Israel can use as negotiations of the peace process continue with the Palestinian Authority. Israel spends almost one-fifth of its national budget on defense and it is an important investment for Israel to consider the transfer program. Prisoner transfer is a strategic policy with global implications. National decisions have a global impact in the relations between states. The reality of the situation is that as the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians continues, it would be an important diplomatic policy for Israel to implement a prisoner transfer program.

Ariel Bigio currently lives in New York. Ariel worked at the Office of the United States Trade Representative and at the Department of Justice in the International Prisoner Transfer Unit, both in Washington, DC.  She earned a B.A. in American Studies and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland and spent a semester in Ghana with the School for International Training. Ariel spent two years in Israel working with Israeli and American youth.