AND SOCIAL CONTROL
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted
Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms.
I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I
might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply
because people refuse to see me.
—Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man
Legal scholars have been highly critical of what they term the “federalization” of crime control, by which they mean the increasing jurisdiction of Congress over more crimes and the growing influence of the Justice Department in state and local crime fighting. This process, they argue, is constitutionally suspect and has produced highly punitive legislation that may serve strategic electoral interests but is nonetheless unwarranted and unproductive.1 As noted in chapter 1, I use the term “federalization” differently in this book—to refer to the presence of a policy issue on all three legislative agendas simultaneously. A more apt term for what legal scholars are describing would be the “nationalization” of crime policy.
As I hope this book has illustrated, the problem is not just with the nationalization of crime policy but with its federalization—its presence on multiple legislative agendas that renders invisible the very groups whose lives, safety, and quality of life depend on their ability to achieve political representation in the legislative venues that matter most. These groups need the power, resources, policy advocacy, and political muscle that state and national governments can offer, but they are the least likely to have