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Criminology: Modern Controversies - Conclusion

social communities especially restorative

The appalling monetary and social costs of incarceration—the former more obvious, but the latter even more devastating to families and communities—have led increasingly to the examination of alternatives and to experimental attempts to lessen or compensate for those costs. Community policing, strategies of reintegrative shaming and restorative justice, special courts, focus on "accountability"—all, in varying degrees, testify to the continued strength of the motivation to rehabilitate offenders, compensate victims, and restore communities, rather than merely punish those who offend criminally.

The politicization of crime and its control, especially in the United States, constitutes a major stumbling block to innovations such as those discussed. Social complexity and the rapidity of social change, resentment over bureaucratic procedures and intransigency, challenge all social institutions but especially those with coercive power. Some of that power would be transferred to individuals and communities if the goals of restorative justice were realized. The hope, if not yet the promise, is that individual self-reliance might also thereby be enhanced and communities strengthened.

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