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Lecture 10 Reading Notes
November 30, 2010
“Burden of Innocence” clip
•About wrongfully convicted people who are released after years in prison and their
difficulties in readjusting to the regular world
•The civil justice fails to provide many of them with compensation
oWas serving a life sentence (18 years so far) for a rape that he didn't commit. He
wasn’t even allowed to take a DNA test although he repeatedly asked for one.
oFrontline and the Innocence Project took up his case, and got him free within three
months, with results of DNA testing.
o3 years later he had no job, no money, and was living in his car. However, before he
went to jail (at age 27), he’d had a job and owned his own job.
oHe was very bitter, even towards his family and just couldn’t seem to adjust to normal
oHe was eventually granted over $100,000 compensation but he stabbed his brother
before he received it and is now back in jail.
oHad a criminal record for robbery, but was wrongfully accused of rape (of a white
oThe victim in the case chose his picture out of five in a photo line-up and he was
found guilty based on this evidence.
oHe was incarcerated in Fulsom State prison, one of the most violent prisons in the
oHe had to become violent in order to survive.
oAfter he was released, he was positive at first. He even got married, had a daughter,
tried to hold a job but couldn’t (women claimed they were uncomfortable with
working with him). Was eventually divorced by his wife, his daughter didn't claim
oSpends his life playing video games
oNever got any compensation.
•Jack, deputy warden in a prison
oTalks about the horrible things that prison wardens end up doing to prisoners.
oFeels really guilty now, but in prison, his actions were normal.
oTries really hard but can’t get any work. Said he’d rather be in jail, because at least he
oHe looked for two years and gave up. Now all he does is play video games in his little
oStill technically has CORI- Criminal Record Offender Information which isn’t
automatically expunged. Few people understand what the word exonerated even
oMost people never receive compensation but it is very difficult to sue the state. Some
states have statutes that allow for compensation to the victims, which makes it easier.
But only fourteen states do, and this doesn't include Massachusetts, where Neil lives.
Lecture 10 Reading Notes
November 30, 2010
oWas on death row (“hell on earth”) for 12 years and was exonerated 5 days before he
was supposed to be executed.
oAlready had mental issues to begin with.
oWas wrongfully accused of rape and murder.
oGuards would harass him in the middle of the night for fun− imitating the victim’s
voice, asking him why he did it etc. He kept talking about hearing voices and people
thought he was crazy.
oEventually won money but will probably never fully recover from his time in jail. He
says he’s ready to die.
oWent to college, was honourably discharged from the army. He was accused of rape
and went to jail for 10 years and was paroled but kept trying to prove his innocence.
oIs actually a success story. Goes to law school during the day and works at night.
oHe testified in front of the senate which resulted in a bill being passed to compensate
victims of wrongful compensation ($25 000 for each year)
oStill lives in fear of police though and no longer believes in the system.
Chapter 10: Radical Criminology
•When radical criminology first emerged in the 1970s, it appeared to be a contradiction in
terms. Criminology had previously been associated with political conservatism, while the
sociology of deviance was more “radical”
oHowever, the term was meant to reflect a movement away from traditional
criminology, while avoiding what seemed to be the limitations of the sociology of
oThis change was produced by “radicalized” students, who in the late 60s experienced
the Vietnam War, racial conflict, feminist consciousness, new forms of drug use etc.
oNeo-Marxist philosophers reinterpreted Marxist theory as a response to the current
issues and the inability of capitalism to solve them. By contrast, the work of Matza,
Becker, Merton, and Cohen seemed too conservative and old-fashioned
oFurther, the popular theories during the 50s and 60s couldn’t explain “deviance of the
powerful”− white collar or corporate crime. Taylor, Walton, and Young accused these
theories of “predicting too little bourgeois and too much proletarian criminality”
•Taylor, Walton, and Young (1973) argue that criminology is missing a fully social theory of
deviance, and use Marxism as a model for one.
oThey criticize the following in previous theories:
Classical criminology and its neo-classical variant (rooted in Hobbes, Locke,
Bentham and the utilitarian tradition) are criticized for being “incapable of
reconciling forms of inequality rooted in property relations and the extent of
rationality to those who offend the law”
Positivism is criticized for using scientific terms to study the offender, but
failing to provide context of social inequality that frames the offence
They disagree with the view of Durkheim as a functionalist who argued that
deviance is necessary for any society to survive. They argue instead that
Durkheim meant that deviance is only functional for societies that lack organic