Crime is a global phenomenon. From the most highly developed states to the least developed ones, crime represents a significant threat to social well-being. And because of its ubiquity, unsavoriness, and harmful qualities, criminal activity has the distinction of being a social event that is often blamed on the individuals who live on the fringes of a society. For immigrants, this tendency to place the blame of crime on the less well-off members of a society is particularly dangerous since they often find themselves occupying some of the lowest rungs on a nation’s social ladder. Unsurprisingly, the consequences of criminal allegations against immigrants are likely to be severe; such allegations are also likely to reinforce the strong and enduring belief found in many countries that immigrants bring with them high criminal propensities (Citrin and Sides 2008; Ousey and Kubrin 2009). more...

Bayer_Heroin_bottleby paulabowles

The links between illegal drug use and crime, particularly acquisitive, have long been recognised as problematic. Recent statistics published in The Independent suggest that as few as ten percent of addicts commit 75 percent of all acquisitive crime. In spite of these consistently dispiriting figures, the familiar approach is one of punishment, with some attempt at rehabilitation. Moreover, all of these programmes have at their foundations an aim to ensure their clients maintain complete desistance from drug use.

However, recent trials—first at the Maudsley Hospital in London, but later extended to Darlington and Brighton—suggest that the way to break the link between drugs and crime should be tackled in an entirely different way. The creation of so-called NHS “shooting galleries”, where long-term addicts can get a regular, monitored fix of heroin, would appear to be having success, not only in cutting crime, but also in reducing drug use. This week the UK National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse is expected to call for a network of these clinics to be created across the country.

However, illegal drug (ab)use is often seen very emotively, and while this initiative may make good economic and indeed, medical sense, there will be many critics. First, the programme is not cheap (although cheaper than prison), second, the already over stretched budgets of the NHS, and finally, the moral dimension, as to whether those criminalised should be given free drugs, regardless of benefit to society. No doubt this debate will continue for some considerable time.

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Injection_Syringe_01by paulabowles

A recent British court case has highlighted the emotive issue of euthanasia, or assisted suicide. Yesterday’s ruling by the House of Lords offers opportunities to not only clarify the legal position, but also places the issue firmly in the public domain. The background to the case involves the personal story of Debbie Purdy and her attempts to shed light on the criterion used by the Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP] with regard to assisted suicide.

As a multiple sclerosis sufferer, Mrs Purdy is determined that such information should be readily available, in order that an individual may make a fully informed choice regarding their own death. Thus far nobody in the UK has been prosecuted for assisting another’s suicide; however, Mrs Purdy is anxious to ensure her husband’s future is prosecution free.

Mrs Purdy has greeted yesterday’s victory as “a huge step towards a more compassionate law”, although concerns have been raised particularly in relation to the message sent out to others suffering from debilitating or terminal conditions. It has also been suggested that the removal of discretion from the legal process, “risks giving rise to perverse judgments that match the letter rather than the spirit of the law and invite reversal on appeal”. The only certainty would appear to be a renewed urgency to the debate on assisted suicide.

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Square-eye$1.99 - small Tony Walter on The Sociology of Death