Academic journal article Social Justice

The First Edition

Academic journal article Social Justice

The First Edition

Article excerpt

Until the 1960s, academic criminology was confined by decades of repression in a theoretical and political cage. Obviously, given the repression, one could hardly have expected things to turn out otherwise. Indeed, considering criminology's organic connections with the most coercive political institutions in our country, it is remarkable that a radical criminology materialized at all.

The reader is undoubtedly familiar with the political events energizing radical criminology at Berkeley. It appeared in the Sixties when political movements were scourging American institutions; when the endemic causes of gender, racial, and class inequality were being laid bare; when crimes against humanity and violations of constitutional law were being exposed at the highest levels of government; and when popular rage over the carnage produced by the U.S. government in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa had ruptured the political fabric of our country.

Nothing written previously in student dissertations or faculty publications at U.C. Berkeley's School of Criminology would have predicted the radical turn taken, under these conditions, to the left. Yet this change could not endure. California officials and university bureaucrats overwhelmed the radicals even though sympathetic faculty and thousands of students in other departments supported them. A law-and-order alliance formed by liberal academics joined the bureaucrats and validated their decision to deny radicals a place at Berkeley.(1)

Crime and Social Justice was born under these circumstances. In the spring of 1973, Hi Schwendinger began to talk about the need for a journal devoted to radical criminology. He reached out to people who might join the editorial collective, although obtaining their support could not be taken for granted. While some consented to join without qualification, others, noting that the student-run Berkeley journal, Issues in Criminology, had shifted to the left, felt that a new radical journal would be redundant.(2) Some declined to join because they were over-committed, coping with academic obligations and antiwar activities, prison reforms, legislative reforms, or fighting for racial and gender equality. Yet a working collective was eventually pulled together. Moreover, Julia Schwendinger and Tommie Hannigan used their funding contacts, made in the early 1970s for the Bay Area Women Against Rape, to obtain seed money for the initial editions.(3)

When eliciting support for the journal, Hi tried to explain the role that it would play by distinguishing it from academic journals, including Issues in Criminology. The journal, he said, would certainly want to publish theoretical articles that contributed to the advancement of criminology or innovative research articles regardless of the author's ideological standpoint. However, its form and content, in other respects, would be unique. The lavish use of photos, graphics, and poetry would impart a dramatic character that would make it attractive to students and activists and sharply differentiate it from other criminology journals. Moreover, the contents of the journal would, despite a preference for Marxian theory, provide a vehicle for writers with varying left viewpoints and would be directed at a broader audience. The journal would even reprint works that provided historical evidence for a publication on crime and punishment, but written by people with such standpoints outside of the academy. It would provide space for describing and evaluating agencies and reform movements - writings that were not restricted by technocratic standards or controlled by the government. Finally, he believed that the creation of the journal should be regarded as a vehicle for expanding the corps of radical criminologists in the U.S.

Although the journal collective was formed during the spring, it did not commence work immediately. The Schwendingers spent the summer visiting criminologists in England, Germany, Austria, and Netherlands. …

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