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American Exceptionalism in Crime and Punishment$
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Kevin R. Reitz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190203542

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190203542.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 October 2021

Making the State Pay

Making the State Pay

Violence and the Politicization of Crime in Comparative Perspective

7 Making the State Pay
American Exceptionalism in Crime and Punishment

Lisa L. Miller

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the literature on the politics of punishment generally, and on US exceptionalism specifically, suffers from insufficient attention to serious violence. It complicates conventional assumptions about democratic politics, mass publics, and crime. Drawing on three cases—the United Kingdom, the United States, and the state of Pennsylvania—this chapter illustrates that rates of violence matter for political attention to crime. It also shows that the politicization of crime does not always lead to a singular focus on punishment and that this politicization in the United States is shaped by both high rates of violence and distinctive institutional dynamics that decouple crime from related social and economic insecurities. The consequence is an (exceptional) political process in the United States that makes it difficult for the polity to make the state pay for high rates of violence and the criminogenic conditions that give rise to them.

Keywords:   violence, politicization of crime, United Kingdom, United States, Pennsylvania, political attention to crime, institutional dynamics, criminogenic condition

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