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Tony Platt and Paul Takagi

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Intellectuals for Law and Order: A Critique of the New “Realists”

Originally published in 1977, this essay by Tony Platt and Paul Takagi charts the rise to dominance of a new “realist” agenda that championed the death penalty, longer sentences, “post-punishment incapacitation,” banishment, exile, house arrest, and other less imaginative weapons in the “war against crime” in the context of an expanding criminal justice apparatus, the contradictions of monopoly capitalism, and the impact of the economic and political crisis on academics. Though the realists claim to be objectively detached experts, they are no more “independent” than the corporate foundations (Rockefeller, Ford, etc.), boards of trustees, and government agencies that sponsor and regulate their work. They are, in short, apologists for social eugenics and intensified repression. These leading liberal and conservative criminologists shared the same political assumptions about the need for new forms of social control, in effect laying the groundwork for the neoliberal consensus that shaped “law and order” and “mass imprisonment” for the next 30 years.

new realist crime policy

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 40, Nos. 1-2 (2013): 192-215

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