Issues of crime, justice, and incarceration play a crucial role in electoral politics. Recent Gallup polls reveal that nearly half of Americans view crime as an extremely serious or very serious problem. Such polls also reveal that Americans have little confidence in the criminal justice system. These issues have been exacerbated recently by the deaths of several young Black men including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois, which brought national attention to the strained relationships between local law enforcement agencies and the communities that they are sworn to serve and protect. Ironically, this concern coincides with a U.S. crime rate that has dropped steadily for more than a decade. Why is the American public increasingly concerned with crime if crime rates are steadily dropping? This chapter explores the role of crime, politics, and media imagery in the making of criminal justice policy. We argue that crime is one of the most enduring political issues of this century and that, in turn, politicians have played a fundamental role in constructing criminal justice policies. The implications for public governance and policymaking are many, as criminal justice policies rely on the public perception of officials as legitimate and just. Scandal and corruption reduce the legitimacy of public officials and lead to public questions about the discretionary decision-making of criminal justice actors as well as the disproportionate consequences in the criminal justice system for poor and minority communities.
Rabe-Hemp, C.E., Mulvey, P. and Foster, M. (2017), "Crime, Injustice, and Politics", Corruption, Accountability and Discretion (Public Policy and Governance, Vol. 29), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 127-141. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2053-769720170000029007Download as .RIS
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