Community and the Offender: From Reintegration to Exclusion
Defining community and debating the concept's relevance to the modern world are pursuits that have elicited much academic energy, literature and debate. Notwithstanding these endeavours definitions of community usually imply an assumed 'element of heterogeneity based on common characteristics, histories, traditions or beliefs' (Worrall 1997:46) and a presumption that this homogeneity will elicit '"a sense of mutual responsibility" whereby community members will "look after" or "deal with" the needs of the members of the community' (Worrall 1997:46-47). This presumption of mutual responsibility means that community has proved an attractive entity in respect of addressing the problems of crime and disorder, particularly in terms of its assumed inherent capacities for informal social control. Indeed, the notion that more community is believed to result in less crime (Crawford 1997; 1998) is abundantly evident in discourses of crime prevention and crime control. However, community has proved a 'promiscuous' concept (Worrall, 1999:46). On the one hand community is invoked as an agent of social control while on the other it is recognised that crime is a threat to community and community breakdown is associated increasing levels of crime (Levitas, 2000:193). This plurality has infused the development of criminological discourses of community and associated policy developments wherein concerns of reintegration and restitution have vied with those of protection and exclusion. However, the demise of community and the increasing threat associated with crime and disorder have been such that the faith in communities' capacity for informal social control has been effectively undermined. Consequently it shall be argued the relationship between the community and the offender has shifted from one characterised by concern for reintegration to one preoccupied with issues of protection and exclusion.
The appeal to and
consideration of community in respect of crime has been most directly
addressed in the theory and practice of crime prevention and community
safety and the remainder of this article will draw heavily on this literature.
With regard to structuring the discussion Hope (1995) has suggested three
paradigms of 'community' - albeit with respect to community crime prevention
- that have proved influential upon theoretical and policy developments:
first, the 'disorganised' community; second, the 'frightened' community
and third, the 'disintegrating' community (Walklate and Evans 1999:5-6).
Each of these conceptions of community emerged in response to the problems
of order within cities posed by social, economic and state policies. Thus
the 'disorganised' community is associated with urban growth in first
half of the 20th Century, the 'frightened' community with the urban problems
of the 1970s and 1980s and the 'disintegrating community' with problems
and concerns emerging during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In order
to incorporate contemporary themes in criminology and responses to crime
the discussion will also draw on Garland's (2001) and Worrall's (1997)
analysis to extend the consideration to discourses of the 'lost community'
and the 'punishing community' (Worrall, 1997:58).
The disorganised community is the enduring legacy of the Chicago School. The sociology department of the University of Chicago was constituted in 1892 and thus well placed to investigate the burgeoning city of Chicago. Concerned with issues of urban growth and population expansion the Chicago School sought to explain how the city of Chicago had expanded and become internally differentiated (Downes and Rock 1995:71). It was theorised that the city's social and physical form was determined by relatively unregulated competition for urban space between industrial or commercial and residential uses and between social groups differentiated by income and ethnic and cultural identity (Hope 1995). Thus as the city expanded and developed it become internally differentiated into concentric rings of activity (see Parks & Burgess, 1925). The central zone - essentially a business district - was characterised by a small residential population and high property values and was surrounded by the 'zone in transition' which was characterised by a shifting and fluid population, poverty, decline, instability and high rates of crime. Thereafter the sequencing of zonal rings progressed from working class to middle class housing with suburbia at the extremes. Thus immigrant groups and individuals would initially settle in the 'zone in transition' but as they adjusted and made economic progress so they would move successively to the zones of the city appropriate for their particular economic and social standing.
The concentration of crime apparent within the 'zone in transition' was explained in terms of social disorganisation, described as 'the degree to which members of a society lose their common understandings, that is, the degree to which consensus is undermined' (Wirth, cited in Downes and Rock, 1995:73). Thus as the 'zone in transition' contained social groups undergoing a process of transition to urban ways they were considered disorganised, creating a moral vacuum in which youth, without guidance or control, were free and susceptible to involvement in criminal activity (Hope, 1995:26). Downes and Rock (1995) note that integral to the zonal theory was the idea that social disorder was linked to obstructions to social control. Within the zone of transition social control was obstructed because the social standing of residents was low and local resistance to crime was weak. Accordingly, crime was not seen by the Chicago School as abnormal or pathological but rather was likely to find expression in economically and politically isolated localities where alternative patterns of social order replaced conventional institutions.
The vision of community inherent to the 'disorganised community' is one wherein the characteristics of the locality and its residents in combination serve to increase the risk of involvement in criminal activity. Thus the offender or likely offender is viewed as an integral member of the community and solutions to this situation revolve around strategies intended to encourage and enhance the expression of underlying core values and morals and hence the community's assertion of informal social control. On this basis the Chicago Area Project (CAP) was inaugurated in 1934 with a range of programmes established to promote and support local institutional infrastructures, which in turn could serve to effectively inculcate moral values and provide standards of behaviour. To varying degrees the CAP programmes involved recreational programmes for children; campaigns to improve the conditions in the area; and outreach work with delinquents and gang members. However, the substantive content of the programmes was held to matter less than the projects' ability to mobilise the community's own social control resources. In particular the programmes sought to enhance the capacity of local residents to initiate and promote links with 'disaffiliated' youth and to seek indigenous sources for the promotion of offenders' welfare (Downes and Rock, 1995: 334). The facilitation and improvement of relations between the offender and the community promoted by strategies of community restoration and offender reintegration was considered fundamental to encouraging informal social control and addressing crime.
This emphasis upon changing offenders' values, attitudes and behaviour in line with normative codes through moral education, and reformative practices (Garland, 2001:183) characterise what Garland (2001) terms the era of 'penal welfarism'. However, the crime control strategies pursued within the era of penal welfarism were confronted by an array of practical and ideological difficulties. Problems which Hope (1995) maintains have proved pertinent to the ongoing pursuit of community crime prevention. For example, in implementing the CAP project it became apparent that the approach proved most successful in the more stable and ethnically homogenous neighbourhoods, rather than those which most closely resembled the 'disorganised community'. Difficulties were also experienced in maintaining the indigenous community's involvement in the longer term especially within a context of population and cultural turnover within the neighbourhoods. Finally, where there were differences between the goals of the intervention and what the communities themselves defined as important and desirable a degree of compromise was necessary to engage the voluntary commitment of local residents. However, more fundamentally the failure of 'welfarist' approaches to impact on crime became associated with the 'aetiological crisis' of the 1960s whereby crime soared despite improvements in employment, housing and educational conditions (Crawford, 1998).
This 'failure' heralded
the demise of the era of penal welfarism and throughout the 1970s and
1980s criminological and policy discourses prioritised the victim perspective
with residential defence emerging as a key response to rising crime rates;
increasing public anxiety about crime; and the view that urban environments
were becoming increasingly dangerous places to live and work (Hope 1995).
Thus the relationship between the community and the offender was to become
increasingly defined by concerns of protection and exclusion.
The discourse of the 'Frightened Community', which emerged in the late 1960s in the United States - and later in Europe - championed residents' informal self-policing of their own communities. Influenced by the work of Wilson (1975), and in particular his vehement opposition to addressing offending through public policy and improvements in social conditions herein crime control strategies no longer emphasised the 'utopian goals' associated with welfarist strategies but rather the 'moderate expectations' and 'marginal gains' associated with the deterrent effects of community-based surveillance and protection. Its appeal was further facilitated by the lack of research evidence to support the pursuit of social programmes (Skogan, 1990) and enhanced by the pervasiveness of the 'Nothing Works' agenda and the general loss of faith in the capacity of rehabilitation, punishment and the criminal justice system (Tilley 2001; Garland 2001). Thus, Hope (1995) observes the 1970s and 1980s witnessed increased legislative and funding support for the active involvement of citizens in the maintenance of order in their residential environments.
On the one hand this promoted strategies involving residents' intentionally organised community surveillance that has taken many forms but is widely recognised under the general heading of Neighbourhood Watch. Such schemes gained widespread political support in the United States during the 1970s and in the United Kingdom during the 1980s and were generally envisaged as a means of involving the public in crime control at a local level by encouraging community members to come together in neighbourhood groups to keep watch over one another's properties and report any suspicious activities to the police. On the other hand emphasis was focused on the design, manipulation and management of the built environment as advocated in Newman's theory of 'defensible space'. Generally this involved the territorial subdivision of residential areas through the use of controlled entrances; the restriction of movement of strangers and the promotion of greater surveillance (Coleman 1985:80) in order to encourage residents' sense of 'ownership and responsibility' (Newman:1973:79). Both approaches aimed to reduce crime by engendering residents' latent sense of territoriality (Crawford, 1998:76) and thereby promoting, simulating and even recreating the informal policing and social control characteristically associated with community life. The fact that such strategies promoted and relied upon informal mechanisms of protection and surveillance enjoyed widespread political appeal. Not least because in an era of fiscal restraint they offered a relatively inexpensive solution to the problems of crime control and offered modest support for communities while diverting attention from demands to address the root cause of crime (Hope, 1995:43). However, the potential of these strategies to regenerate community and promote its informal social control mechanisms is less clear whereby defensive policy responses reliant on the voluntarism and active citizenship of residents seem of limited utility in the very neighbourhoods were crime and disorder are most rife. This viewpoint is eloquently summarised by David Smith:
The imagery and implication
of the 'frightened community' discourse is that of a 'community' under
siege from the predations of external offenders wherein instances of victimisation
serve to undermine the quality and experience of community life. Herein
the prioritisation of the victim perspective imposes a focus on the offence
or potential offence as opposed to the offender. Thus while the policy
strategies associated with the 'frightened community' retain the ultimate
goal of recreating communal relations and enabling communities to informally
self-police and exert social control in contrast to the disorganised community
the emphasis is explicitly on situational crime prevention strategies
of protection and defence rather than any consideration of how communities
might seek to rehabilitate and reintegrate of offenders. This shift to
defensive responses to crime problems is further consolidated and developed
in Hope's third paradigm the 'disintegrating community' which was influenced
by new criminological insights regarding the character of high crime areas
and their residents.
In the least developed of Hope's (1995) suggested paradigms the 'disintegrating community' was fuelled by the criminological insights that high crime areas were also associated with high levels of disorder and that certain areas and particular residents within these areas were more prone to criminal victimisation. Variant forms of the approaches to crime control apparent in its predecessors were developed to take account of these developments in criminological theory. On the one hand strategies were implemented to restore and maintain order in particular localities and thereby promote residents' satisfaction and feelings of territoriality and safety, while on the other measures were instituted to offer enhanced protection to those residents at greatest risk of criminal victimisation. In the former we see continuity in the belief that if communities' underlying characteristics regarding ownership and informal social control can be aroused this will contribute to the control of crime and disorder. While in the latter defensive strategies are deemed necessary in recognition of the fact that those communities most victimised by crime are also those with the least capacity to address them through communal means.
The first concern to restore order draws on Wilson and Kelling's 'Broken Window' thesis which argues that minor incivilities - such as, graffiti, vandalism, rowdy behaviour and begging - are of crucial symbolic import demonstrating that 'no-one cares' and that an environment is 'uncontrolled and uncontrollable' and therefore one which 'anyone can invade' in order 'to do whatever damage and mischief the mind suggests' (Wilson and Kelling 1982:33). As such a spiralling process may be initiated which promotes further incivilities, disorder, crime and residents fear of crime. Residents with the means choose to leave the area leaving behind the weak and vulnerable and exposing the neighbourhood to the risk of colonisation by street criminals, such as drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes (Muncie, 2001). In this way the spiral ofcrime and disorder continues. Therefore, it is argued that the aggressive policing of incivilities and other signs of crime in combination with residents' surveillance of the environment and their regulation of members conduct will promote residents' satisfaction and feelings of territoriality and safety thereby enabling the community to reassert its moral order and social control (Crawford, 1998:131). The Broken Window's thesis has spawned a variety of strategies ranging from low level surveillance and environmental care associated with the installation of caretakers/concierges in problem estates to the problem orientated policing initiatives such as the much vaunted 'zero tolerance' approach of the New York Police Department in the 1990s. The empirical evidence on the effectiveness of such strategies is mixed (see Taylor, 1997; Taylor and Covington, 1998) and again the approach appears least suited to those communities where disorder and crime are major problems. Indeed, while offering positive effects in terms of residents' perceptions of safety and satisfaction the inherent danger of this approach is that 'the authors of disorder - the marginalised youths, beggars, vagrants, drug abusers and prostitutes - are identified as the architects of neighbourhood change and economic decline rather than its victims' (Crawford, 1998:133).
By contrast the second approach advocated within the 'disintegrating community' paradigm is premised on individualist and defensive strategies which target resources and efforts on those residents most vulnerable to repeat or multiple victimisation in an effort to positively impact on aggregate crime rates. This approach is illustrated in strategies such as the Kirkholt Burglary Prevention Initiative which was established in Rochdale during the 1980s. The Kirkholt project involved instituting a range of measures to protect residents at risk of repeat victimisation, which included upgrading the security of recently victimised properties; property marking; the removal of prepayment utility meters; establishing watching 'cocoon groups' of immediate neighbours of recently victimised households; school based programmes for the local youth; and group-work and community service initiatives with local offenders. The initiative appeared to have brought about a 75 percent decrease in the incidence rate of burglary on the estate over a period of three years (Forrester, Chatterson and Pease, 1988). However which particular factors or combination of factors were responsible for this outcome remains unclear (Tilley, 1993).
The disintegrating community testifies to the importance of communal solidarity and informal systems of social control while continuing the shift towards increasingly defensive and individualised solutions to protection and crime control. The focus on the crime event as opposed to the offender means that risk resolutely remains the focus of interventions wherein efforts are made to address the symptoms and manifestations of crime, and to a greater or lesser extent it is hoped that any feelings of territoriality that ensue will promote the informal surveillance and controls usually associated with communal relations. Indeed the goal of enabling the community to exert social control is less to the fore given the explicit recognition of community breakdown and its subsequent inability to deal with offending through informal means. Within the 'disintegrating community' the offender is no longer viewed as an external predator but rather an integral member of poor, vulnerable and crime prone communities whose actions serve to exacerbate the demise of communal life. As such the relationship between the offender and community is proving increasingly problematic and the appeal of exclusion ever more alluring. Furthermore, the pursuit of crime management through strategies focused upon the symptoms and manifestations of disorder and crime appears to support and perpetrate the view of the 'pathological community' championed by the American social scientist Charles Murray (1984, 1990, 1994) who has argued that communities comprising fatherless and undisciplined families create the conditions within which crime and disorder flourishes. The danger of pathologising particular individuals and areas raises concerns with regard to the risk of community vigilantism and more profoundly in relation to community and social justice.
community' associated with criminological insights and policy developments
of the late 1980s and early 1990s is where Hope's analysis ends. However,
the preoccupation with themes of defence and control resonate with the
criminological theories which dominate throughout the 1990s and continue
to the present day. Garland's (2001) analysis of crime and social control
in contemporary society and particularly his identification of two new
criminological discourses (the 'criminologies of everyday life' and the
'criminology of the other') provide the framework for the ongoing analysis
of discourses of community within criminological theory. Here the discussion
will be in terms of the 'lost community' and the 'punishing community'
wherein the former will consider the continued preoccupation with situational
variables in crime control and prevention while the latter will considers
the implications of developing increasingly punitive and exclusive approaches
to the problem of crime.
The destabilising forces of globalisation, individuality and plurality inherent to contemporary society have been associated with the demise of community (see Bauman 2000; Young 1999) and inevitability this raises questions regarding the continued credibility and relevance of 'community' to addressing issues of crime and disorder. Thus, while contemporary crime control strategies continue to advocate the need to instil dying habits of 'mutual supervision, scolding, sanctioning and shaming carried out, as a matter of course by community members' increasingly priority has been accorded to 'more deliberate, more focussed and more reflexive' approaches to the management and control of crime (Garland, 2001:159). Within the contemporary discourse of the 'criminologies of everyday life' the continued potency of the victim perspective; rational choice theory; routine activity theory and the perception of crime as opportunity has promoted crime control strategies which are 'rational, morally neutral, knowledge-based, pragmatic solutions' and which stress 'the modification of situations and opportunity structures' (Garland, 2001: 182). Crime control continues to be offence - rather than offender - focused wherein 'situational engineering' strives to minimise the risk of crime and maximise the protection of the public (Garland 2001:182). Accordingly Garland's 'criminologies of everyday life' incorporate situational crime prevention approaches apparent in both the 'Frightened' and 'Disintegrating' community paradigms and more contemporary developments in crime control, such as closed circuit television (CCTV); gated communities; and the use of private police and security firms (see Davies 1990).
Garland (2001) contends that the contemporary 'landscape of criminology' (Loader and Sparks 2002) is one characterised by 'penal modality' rather than 'penal welfare'. Within this era of penal modality it is argued that the state's institutions, cultures, responsibilities and accountabilities have been reconfigured to inculcate more realistic public expectations of what the state can accomplish. At the same time the rise of 'managerialism' and the emphasis on value for money in crime control has witnessed a proliferation of community safety professionals and the increasing use of new technologies in the control of crime (Loader and Sparks 2002). Furthermore, 'responsibilisation strategies' (Garland, 2001:124-127) have increasingly shifted responsibility for crime control from formal institutions to individuals, organisations and their use of commercial security providers. This in turn has facilitated the 'commodification of security' for the purposes of crime control and thus, for example, an expanding role for private security companies, and the supply of security hardware and technologies. The emphasis upon minimising the risk of disruption and deviance through essentially amoral and technical offence focused strategies effectively marginalises concerns for the experiences of communities and offenders and by implication the nature of the relationship between the them. Furthermore, the very practical and problem orientated focus of these situational approaches to crime control favours the advantaged and serves 'to harden divisions between those consumers and communities who are well placed to become active risk managers and those (generally more 'at risk' groups) who lack the economic and social capital to provide for their own and collective safety' (Loader & Sparks, 2002:89). Thus an insidious vision of 'us' and 'them', the 'law abiding' and 'the criminal', dominates an increasingly divisive and exclusionary crime control agenda. As Garland observes:
Despite the ascendancy of situational engineering and the view that the characteristics of modern society - crime, separation, divorce, privacy, political apathy, untamed consumerism and narcissism (Crawford, 1997:194) - are compelling symbols of the loss of community the potential contribution of community to the control of crime has not been wholly eclipsed. (see Braithwaite 1989; Etizioni, 1995 and Puttnam, 2001). Concerned by the private and public deterioration of morality and the problem of 'too many rights and too few obligations' Etizioni's communitarianism, in particular, has proved popular in both political and populist domains. Etzioni (1995) asserts that we gain our moral sense from the communities to which we belong whereby: 'Communities speak to us in moral voices. They lay claims on their members. Indeed they are the most important sustaining source of moral voices other than the inner self.' (Etizioni 1995: 31, emphasis in the original). Subsequently investing in communities is a moral act, which in turn strengthens the bonds through which communities speak to us (Crawford, 1997). Thus conceived 'community' is simultaneously an end in itself and a means to an end and Etzioni believes his vision of communitarianism can be achieved if 'all of us invest more of ourselves in one another' wherein institutions, such as the family, schools and communities, have pivotal roles to play in instilling and reinforcing moral values. According to Etzioni crime prevention is the bonus of a moral and civil society (1995:190). As he observes:
the potential crime control gains to be reaped from reciprocal communal
relations and the informal controls such social relationships may impart,
Etzioni's communitarianism is not a wholly inclusive vision. Indeed, offenders
and criminal activity are problematic to Etzioni's vision of community
as an environment of trust which upholds positive values and moral virtues.
Indeed the actions of criminals are viewed as a betrayal of the communitarian
doctrine which in addition to community policing and neighbourhood watch
appears to legitimise a zero tolerance approach to alcohol and drug use
and a particularly Draconian version of reintegrative shaming for first
time offenders (Hughes, 1999: 109). Herein the division between the 'law-abiding'
community and the 'criminal' is once again apparent and concerns regarding
the rejection and exclusion of the marginal and deviant appear as legitimate
in this context as they were in relation to the situational engineering
inherent to the era of penal modality. However, while the latter is dependent
on the appliance of rational and technical strategies, the moralistic
overtures inherent to communitarianism invoke the worrying prospect that
people's insecurities or fear of the unknown or unusual at the extreme
may promote sectarian forms of solidarity (Hughes, 1998:110). Heralding
the potential for evermore exclusive and punitive relations between community
and offenders which culminates in Garland's assertion of the 'criminology
of the other' and the prospect of the 'punishing community'
Garland's 'criminology of the other' shuns the view of crime as a routine part of everyday life rather it 'redramatizes it - depicting it in melodramatic terms, viewing it as a castrophe, framing it in the language of warfare and social defence' (Garland, 2001:184). Utilising appeals to common sense and exhortations to absolute moral standards the respectable law-abiding citizen is pitted against the feckless criminal outsider with no regard for the criminal's welfare or prospects of rehabilitation. Herein it is argued that the 'flood of crime, disorder and social problems' (ibid: 184) characteristic of modern society arises from the failure of the penal system and society in general to uphold law and order or maintain respect for authority. Emphasising questions of moral responsibility the urge here is to punish criminals through an 'excess of controls' (ibid.:186) in order to excommunicate or forcibly expel those who do not or cannot fit into to 'civil society' (ibid.:184) discounting any social costs or penal consequences. As Worrall observes:
associated with the American context and in particular the continued use
of the death penalty and the trend to mass imprisonment, elements of this
agenda are also apparent in the United Kingdom. For example, in the former
Prime Minister's plea 'to condemn more and to understand less' (Major.
1993); the rhetoric of 'Prison Works' (Home Office, 1996) and New Labour's
endorsement of an authoritarian law and order agenda which has culminated
in Britain achieving the dubious accolade of 'prison capital of Western
Europe' (Travis, 2003). As such the 'punishing community' and the prospect
of ever more punitive and exclusive responses to offenders appears a distinct
if unwelcome possibility. This disregard for the offenders and by implication
the communities to which they belong raises concerns with respect to the
exclusionary impacts of the 'punishing community' on the most disadvantaged
groups in society: 'the urban poor, welfare claimants, and minority communities'
(Garland, 2001:196). The pursuit of such a reactionary penality based
on control, condemnation and confinement with little regard for questions
of welfare or prospects of rehabilitation raises major risks in terms
of 'criminal embeddedness' (Worrall, 1997:89). Indeed, Worrall (1997)
argues that by failing to encourage offenders' reintegration and conformity
such an approach may reinforce the belief that criminality is the only
Despite the continued interest in and appeals to communal solidarity and informal social controls the pervasiveness of the 'loss of community' and the seeming incapacity of communities to deliver protection and safety to its members appears to have effectively undermined the view of community as an effective agent of social control. As such crime control at the community level has increasingly become dominated by the view that offenders and crime undermine and threaten community life and thus concerns for defence and protection have usurped attempts to engender informal social control. As the recourse to communal relations and resources has diminished in favour of greater and more extensive use of situational engineering strategies in turn the relationship between the offender and community has become increasingly characterised by suspicion, hostility and demands for exclusion. The efficacy and desirability of this outcome is questionable as is the trajectory to ever more exclusionary and punitive responses envisaged for the era of penal modality. Exclusionary and punitive responses to offending fail to address the underlying causes of criminality, may impact negatively on more vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups within society and offenders' experiences of marginalisation and exclusion may exacerbate the severity and extent of their criminal activity. Fundamentally these concerns raise questions about our responsibilities in addressing offending and offenders outside the strictures of the criminal justice system. Notwithstanding the difficulties and debates regarding the efficacy of communal capacities with respect to crime management and crime control it is argued that the task of replacing 'rejecting, excluding and punitive' visions of community and offender/community relations with those which strive to be 'resourceful, tolerant and healing' (Worrall, 1997:46) is one which demands urgent and serious deliberation.
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Janet Jamieson is Lecturer in Criminology in the Department of Applied Social Science at Lancaster University. Her interests include youth offending and youth justice, and criminological debates relating to gender, community, exclusion and disadvantage. Her publications include Understanding Offending Among Young People (Edinburgh: The Stationery Office, 1999) (with G. McIvor and C. Murray); "Gender Differences in Desistance From Crime", Social and Behavioural Rehabilitation in Prisons, Jails and the Community, Vol4, No1, 2000 (with G. McIvor and C. Murray); "Community Bail or Penal Remand? A Critical Analysis of Recent Policy Developments in Relation to Unconvicted and/or Unsentenced Juveniles", British Journal of Community Justice, Vol1, No2 Summer 2002 (with B. Goldson); and "Youth Crime, the 'Parenting Deficit' and State Intervention: A Contextual Critique", Youth Justice, Vol2, No2, October 2002 (with B. Goldson)