The Moral Politics of Social Control: Political Culture and Ordinary Crime in Cuba
Brooklyn Journal of International Law, Forthcoming
75 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 25, 2009
The Cuban revolution has been described as “the longest running social experiment” in history, and one not well-received in the United States. The U.S. government responded to the revolution first with suspicion, and then hostility. Even while the current administration has acknowledged the failure of U.S. policy, few substantive changes have been announced and the narrative of Cuba in the United States continues to dwell almost exclusively on political repression and economic failure.
The Cuban revolution, however, is a complex process, one that defies facile explanations. This article subscribes to the perspective offered by social scientists who urge “a more nuanced view” of Cuba. As Cuba marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban revolution, we undertake an examination of a specific facet of the Cuban revolution, that is, the Cuban approach to ordinary crime. The article provides insights about the ways in which political culture and social controls interact to produce a coherent and generally successful policy response to crime. That Cuba has succeeded in reducing reliance on formal penal sanctions and lowered crime rates invites comparison with the United States, where strategies of community controls as an alternative to incarceration have met with less success.
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