Negotiating Responsibility in the Criminal Justice System

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Jack B. Kamerman
SIU Press, 1998 - Social Science - 197 pages
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With this collection of essays, Jack Kamerman presents the first sustained examination of one of the underpinnings of the operation of the criminal justice system: the issue of responsibility for actions and, as a consequence, the issue of accountability.


Unique in the breadth of its approach, this volume examines the issue of responsibility from the perspectives of criminal justice professionals, sociologists, philosophers, and public administrators from four countries. Attacking the problem on various levels, the essayists look first at the assumptions made by criminal justice institutions regarding offender responsibility, then turn to the views of offenders on the causes of their own actions and to the consequences of offenders either to accept or deny responsibility.


These scholars also examine the social and psychological circumstances under which people in general accept or deny responsibility for what they do, thus providing the basis for understanding the process of social distance as a major precondition for people to commit atrocities without seeing themselves as responsible. Understanding the circumstances under which people either distance themselves from or embrace responsibility enables criminologists to make grounded recommendations for reordering responsibility in the criminal justice system and, more generally, for restoring a sense of responsibility to organizations, occupations, and society.


Aside from Kamerman, the contributors are William C. Collins, Charles Fethe, Gilbert Geis, Robert J. Kelly, Alison Liebling, Jess Maghan, Mark Harrison Moore, Paul Neurath, John Rakis, William Rentzmann, and José E. Sánchez.


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The Social Construction of Responsibility
Philosophical Perspectives on Responsibility
Renting Out the Responsibility for
Are Staff
Its Not Your Fault A Message to Offenders from
Moral Disengagement and the Role of Ideology
Responsibility Anxiety and Organizational
Negotiating Responsibility in an Age
List of Contributors

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About the author (1998)

Jack Kamerman is a professor of sociology at Kean University of New Jersey. He is the author of Death in the Midst of Life: Social and Cultural Influences on Death, Grief, and Mourning and coeditor (with Rosanne Martorella) of Performers and Performances: The Social Organization of Artistic Work.

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