Bob Howard of the BBC has recently published an article looking at a scheme to combat sex offender recidivism. Originating in Canada, friendship circles are ‘based on the premise that while some offenders have friends and family to return to when they come out of prison, others have not and the more isolated they are, the more likely they are to re-offend’. Throughout the article, Sarah from London talks about her experiences as a volunteer for the child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation

Given the emotive nature of the crimes these particular offenders have been found guilty of, it is unsurprising that Sarah admits to some trepidation and concern prior to volunteering for the scheme. However, taking into account the positive results reported by Canada (currently a reduction in reoffending of 70%) it would appear to be more effective than traditional and arguably, more punitive methods.

Perhaps understandably, the scheme is not without its critics. For example Peter Saunders of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood suggests that electronic tagging would be a more appropriate response. Judging by the angry public comments which invariably follow any news story on the rehabilitation of sex offenders (this one included) it would seem that supporters of this scheme will have their work cut out.

Kelly M. Socia Jr and Janet P. Stamatel on ‘Assumptions and Evidence Behind Sex Offender Laws: Registration, Community Notification, and Residence Restrictions’

Chas Critcher on ‘Moral Panic Analysis: Past, Present and Future’

Photo of the Amazon Rainforest Courtesy of Francisco Chaves

Indigenous people residing in Ecuador filed an environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corporation for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste in the Amazon rainforest between 1964 and 1990. The indigenous people argue that Chevron’s toxic waste disposal resulted in $27 billion worth of damages. For instance, evidence suggests that Chevron’s former oil drilling sites are contaminated with toxic byproducts that cause cancer. The indigenous people drink from water sources contaminated by these toxic byproducts.

Chevron hired twelve public relations firms to address the claims of the indigenous people. Undoubtedly, Chevron also hired the public relations firms to respond to organizations criticizing Chevron for engaging in unethical behavior. Some shareholders disapprove of Chevron’s response to the environmental lawsuit, which includes hiring Hill & Knowlton. Interestingly, this public relations firm represented the tobacco industry during its indictment about tobacco causing cancer.

Recently, the common theme of corporate irresponsibility became apparent. Chevron denied responsibility for its contaminants. Also in the news, Toyota Motor Corporation reluctantly announced a safety recall of several million vehicles with sticking gas pedals. If corporations engage in actions (i.e., dumping toxic waste in Chevron’s case; selling vehicles with faulty parts in Toyota’s case) that result in serious illnesses and injuries, then should they be held accountable? Or, more pointedly, should executives be held criminally responsible for the actions that they endorse while managing corporations? How can we influence executives to place the health and safety of human beings over the corporate bottom line?

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“Economic Globalization: Corporations” By Peter Dicken

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Following the recent sad news of the death of 4 year old John Paul Massey, after he had been attacked by his uncle’s American bull mastiff, media attention has refocused on the ownership of ‘dangerous’ dogs. As part of the BBC ‘Pledge Watch’ series of articles, Justin Parkinson has taken the opportunity to revisit the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Following a spate of dog attacks on children in the early 1990s, media coverage focused on various breeds of dogs as symptomatic of Britain’s growing levels of aggression. One particular case – the fatal canine attack on Rukhsana Khan – led to the creation of emergency legislation, supported by the Conservative government and the labour opposition. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 banned the import of four types of dog, as well as allowing for those dogs deemed dangerous to be subject to a compulsory destruction orders. The legislation also made the wearing of muzzles when for certain types of dog.

Despite allegations that ‘the Dangerous Dogs Act is among the worst pieces of legislation ever seen, a poorly thought-out knee-jerk reaction to tabloid headlines that was rushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny’ it is seen by many as necessary. With recent NHS statistics suggesting that dog attacks are on the increase, it would seem that this particular act is not able to tackle the problem. It would seem that for the foreseeable future, certain types of dogs will continue to be ‘folk devils.’

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Chas Critcher on Moral Panic Analysis: Past Present and Future