Criminality in Context The Psychological Foundations of Criminal Justice Reform

Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2020-01-28
Publisher(s): American Psychological Association
List Price: $49.05

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In this groundbreaking book that is built on decades of work on the front lines of the criminal justice system, expert psychologist Craig Haney provides a blueprint for fundamental reform by changing our understanding of who commits crime and why. Based on a comprehensive review and analysis of psychological research, Haney offers a carefully constructed framework for enhancing legal fairness and reducing crime through proactive prevention instead of reactive punishment. Haney meticulously reviews evidence documenting the ways in which a person’s social history, institutional experiences, and present circumstances powerfully shape their life course, with a special focus on the role of social, economic, and racial injustice in crime causation. He thus effectively debunks the “crime master narrative”—the widespread myth that criminality is a product of free and autonomous “bad” choices—an increasingly anachronistic view that cannot bear the weight of contemporary psychological data and theory. This is a must-read for understanding the origins of criminal behavior and developing a fair and effective system to address them.

Author Biography

Since his early work on the Stanford Prison Experiment, Craig Haney has become one of the nation’s most highly regarded scholars whose research, writing, and testimony have helped to transform the criminal justice system. He served on a National Academy of Sciences committee studying mass incarceration, and his front-line observations and analyses have been cited by the United States Supreme Court. He has seen firsthand how social and economic injustice operate to produce crime in our society and how often the criminal justice system acts to worsen rather than alleviate these problems. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Shadd Maruna



Chapter 1: Individualistic Myths and the Crime Master Narrative
Chapter 2: Risks and Contexts: An Alternative Paradigm for Understanding Criminality
Chapter 3: Criminogenic Trauma: Social History and the Life Course
Chapter 4: Institutional Failure: State Intervention as Criminogenic Risk
Chapter 5: Criminogenic Contexts: Immediate Situations, Settings, and Circumstances
Chapter 6: Poverty: Structural Risk and Criminal Behavior
Chapter 7: The Criminogenics of Race in a Divided Society: Racialized Criminality and Biographical Racism
Chapter 8: Individualistic Myths and the Disregard of Context: Deconstructing “Equally Free Autonomous Choice”
Chapter 9: Reorienting the Law: Context-Based Legal Reforms
Chapter 10: Pursuing Social Justice: An Agenda for Fair, Effective, and Humane Crime Policy


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