Welcome to the fourth issue of Radical Criminology. We hope you find it interesting and instigating. We began this project two years ago with a conviction about the need for a venue for the expression of radical perspectives in criminology and a commitment to bring together criminologists of the schools and of the streets in a common space. The great positive response to, and support for, the journal has been quite phenomenal. We have received notes of appreciation and encouragement from people on every continent. We have heard from academics and activists, criminologists and community organizers, alike. It has emphatically confirmed and deepened our belief that there is a substantial pressing need for venues for radical criminological analysis and agitation in the current period of law and order austerity and repression.
Release of the fourth issue of a journal is a particularly gratifying event. The first issue is always accompanied by anticipatory excitement and hopefulness. But publishing graveyards are filled with wonderful journals that only survived for one issue. A second issue is cause for celebration to be sure but can still hold a threat of being flukey. The fourth issue suggests the journal has some staying power and is on a good footing. This is especially true in this case given the growing numbers and continuing high quality of submissions.
There have also been some notable occurrences along the way. Christopher Petrella's article "The Color of Corporate Corrections" was profiled in numerous major mass media outlets, including Mother Jones, USA Today, Tavis Smiley, and Bill Moyers. It has had a real impact on understandings of an issue of great importance.
Events that occurred over the period of this issues production reinforced, rather starkly, the necessity for an active, publicly engaged criminology rooted in radical and insurgent perspectives, practices, and movements. A criminology that asserts radical visions openly and unflinchingly is as important as ever. One of the painfully telling events was the police murder, execution really, of an unarmed African American teenager, Mike Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, and subsequently the military response to, and violence inflicted upon, community members who took to the streets to express their grief and anger over the police killing and the lack of sanction on the officer responsible. The ongoing militarization of police forces in North America, not only in terms of weaponry, armor, vehicles, and munitions but in the development and treatment of "hostiles" (members of the public) was certainly brought to the forefront of public consciousness. It very much appeared that the police in Ferguson viewed themselves and acted as an occupying force.
Another, also troubling issue, was revealed, with less comment, by the response to the Ferguson execution. That was the reliance of the corporate mass media on (ex)cop criminologists for comment and "analysis" (excuse). Various (ex)cop criminologists were put forward to discuss the case and without exception they legitimized, justified, and explain away the murder of Mike Brown by their (former) colleagues. "You don't know what it's like out there." People don't always stop when shot the first time." Such attempts at legitimation, disgusting and contemptible, relied on the credibility afforded by the designation "criminologist." They put the discipline at service as apologists for extrajudicial state murder.
As we bring out an issue on public criminology it is important to recognize and address this. Not all public criminology is radical, critical, or even simply honorable. Radical criminology must find ways to get our perspectives out in the world. Whether that is through journals, editorials, blogs, or websites or through means like twitter (where most of the best analysis of Ferguson occurred and/or was circulated). We have developed @critcrim on twitter as well as a RadicalCriminology Youtube channel.
Another issue related to the state apologist criminology after Ferguson that requires some note is the number of often acting cops fancying themselves as criminologists and getting hired by criminology departments (focused on labor market ready education, job preparation, and "results" oriented funding formulas). Indeed there are now developing entire dedicated professional programs, mostly online or through limited residencies, offering advanced credentials to police officers cum criminologists. Universities in England, for example, are giving out Prof Docs to cops who need the designation to jump a pay grade in the force. Unwary criminology departments are treating these as earned academic doctorates for purposes of hiring. Given the status and legitimacy of officers with local media, and the further boost in status and credibility provided by their professorial status, it is a real possibility that these will increasingly be the faces of public criminology within mass media outlets.
This is our first guest edited volume and we thank Justin Piché for his diligent and enthusiastic work in seeing the public criminology section through production. Several more guest edited volumes are on the way as the journal increasingly becomes a community resource for criminologists and activists alike who are striving for an insurgent criminology, a criminology of resistance.
We would also like to thank all of the folks who have signed up on our Open Journal Systems website, some of whom we have contacted for upcoming reviews. And if you haven't heard from us, please don't hesitate to log in or drop us an email, and please do not forget to add your list of areas of interest/study to your profile so that we can request your comments (or request your participation in our blind peer review process) on future submissions.
Jeff Shantz, August 2014,Surrey, B.C. (unceded coast salish territories)