From Protecting Individual Rights to Protecting the Public: The Changing Parameters of Populist Driven Criminal Law and Penal Policy
Jürgen Mackert et al (eds.), Populism and Democracy, Volume 2: Politics, Social Movements and Extremism, chapter 3 (Routledge, 2018).
23 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019
Date Written: 2018
In advanced liberal democracies, criminal law and penal policy has been bound by clearly defined parameters that helped to distinguish this mode of governance from that of other—by inference at least, less worthy, less benign—social formations. One of the features of citizenship in the democracies was thus the importance given to protecting the rights of individuals caught up in the criminal justice system from excessive or arbitrary use of state power. However, from the 1980s onwards, there has been a marked shift towards protecting the public—at the expense of individual rights—from those who would otherwise put this at risk. As this has occurred, criminal law has become more punitive, regulatory and extensive. It no longer simply reacts to crime but seeks to prevent it through initiatives backed by penal sanctions, even though no crime may have been committed. In such ways, law and policy have broken out of the parameters that had hitherto bound them.
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