Before the Law: Criminalization, Accusation and Justice: Lindsay Farmer.Making the modern criminal law: Criminalization and civil order.Nicola Lacey.In search of criminal responsibility: Ideas, interests, and institutions.Alan Norrie.Justice and the slaughter bench: Essays on law’s broken dialectic

Law and Critique 28 (3):345-365 (2017)
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Abstract

This review essay critically engages three socio-legal books directed to the changing bases of criminalization; namely, Lacey ; Farmer ; and Norrie, Justice and the slaughter bench: essays on law’s broken dialectic, Routledge, New York, 2016). The texts explore how modern institutions of criminal law proscribe, assign responsibility and appear through contradictory socio-political ‘constellations’. They variously reference criminal law’s expanding punitiveness as it: embraces revived character-based ways of attributing responsibility via ideas of risk; drifts away from a social function of creating civil order; and, works through a ‘broken dialectic’ that fails to recognize its ethico-political auspices. The ensuing ‘overcriminalization’ is referenced variously, but this review questions a tendency to work off legal lexicons, with consequent limitations placed on the scope of social analysis. Referring to Roman and Cape colonial forms of criminalization, this review highlights processes of accusation that call subjects to account as criminals, thereby signalling an initiating socio-political layer upon which unequal forms of overcriminalization rest.

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