CRIM 2652 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Nils Christie

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10 Nov 2014

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CRIM 2652: Week 5 – Lecture #4 October 9, 2014
Understanding Canadian Criminal Justice (II)
5. Inequality
The nature and effects of criminal justice are shaped by broader social relations of power
6. Socio-Historical Context: Change Over Time and Place
Definitions of crime, modes of punishment and severity of punishment change over time
and place
Influenced by many historically and culturally specific factors: moral beliefs,
discrimination, political ideologies and agendas, grass-roots political struggles, economic
interests, the media, etc.
“This narcotic …has the effect of driving the user completely insane. The addict loses all
sense of moral responsibility. Addicts to this drug, while under its influence, are immune
to pain, and could be injured without having any realization of their condition. While in
this condition, they become raving maniacs and are liable to kill or indulge in any form of
violence to other persons, using the most savage methods of cruelty without, as said
before, any sense of moral responsibility...If this drug is indulged in to any extent, it ends
in the untimely death of its addict.”
“Consumption of marijuana is relatively harmless compared to the so-called hard drugs
and including tobacco and alcohol; There exists no hard evidence demonstrating any
irreversible organic or mental damage from the consumption of marijuana; There is no
hard evidence that cannabis consumption induces psychoses; Cannabis is not an
addictive substance;… Marijuana is not criminogenic in that there is no evidence of a
causal relationship between cannabis use and criminality; Marijuana does not make
people more aggressive or violent; There have been no recorded deaths from the
consumption of marijuana.”
(R. v. Malmo-Levine; R. v. Caine, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 571, 2003 SCC 74)
Factors Influencing Shifting CJ Responses to Marijuana
Expert knowledges (e.g. medical, criminological)
Social axes of disadvantage: race,class
Interest groups and grassroots politics
Legal challenges and decisions
Public opinion, the media;
International influences (the U.S.)
Law and order politics
Politics, Popular Culture and the Media
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