Theories of Criminology

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Introducing the New School of Convict Criminology Stephen C. Richards and Jeffrey Ian Ross That's the reality, and to hell with what the class-room bred, degree toting, grant-hustling "experts" say from their well-funded, air-condi? tioned offices far removed from the grubby realities of the prisoner's lives (Rideau and Wikberg, 1992: 59). he United States imprisons more people than any other country in the Western world. Meanwhile, prison research is dominated by government JL funding and conducted by academics or consultants, many of them former employees of the law enforcement establishment (ex-police, correctional, proba? tion, or parole officers), who subscribe to conservative ideologies and have little empathy for prisoners. Much of this "managerial research" routinely disregards the harm perpetrated by criminal justice processing of individuals arrested, charged, and convicted of crimes (Clear, 1994; Cullen, 1995). If legislators, practitioners, researchers, and scholars are serious about ad? dressing the corrections crisis (e.g., Clear, 1994; Welch, 1996,1999; Austin and Irwin, 2001), we need to be more honest and creative with respect to the research we conduct and the policies we advocate, implement, and evaluate. To promote this objective, this essay introduces what we are calling "Convict Criminology," and reviews the theoretical and historical grounding, current initiatives, and dominant themes of this emerging school and social movement. Introduction Stephen C. Richards, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Department of Sociology, Northern Kentucky University, e-mail: He is an ex-convict, having served time in federal penitentiaries, correctional institutions, and camps. His published work has been on tattoos, prison conditions, prison release, community punishments, and state crime. Jeffrey Ian Ross is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Policy, Fellow,...
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