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In Philip K. Dick’s short story Minority Report, the institution of Precrime punishes people with imprisonment for crimes they would have committed had they not been prevented. With Dick’s allegorical inspiration, the authors of Criminal Law and Precrime: Legal Studies in Canadian Punishment and Surveillance in Anticipation of Criminal Guilt posit that recent developments in Canadian law indicate a trend toward imposing punitive measures at increasingly earlier stages of the prosecutorial process. The result is a potentially new field of criminal management that could be characterized as "precrime"—particularly the use of the law as a technology of surveillance and prevention since "terror" became a justification for intervention.
The authors note that as risk management logics (based in actuarial sciences) have shifted to precautionary ones (based in administrative sciences), the law has responded by developing techniques in the arena of criminal regulation in light of the "war on terror": the need to ensure security, the proliferation of digital data, and the development of drones, social networking, and cloud storage to gather personal data. The authors view shifts in criminal investigation; the substantive criminal law of sexual expression, conduct, and work; and civil forfeiture as emblematic of precrime populism. The unifying theme of these techniques is that they occur prior to state-identified crime, arise out of a precautionary philosophy, and seek to presume (or circumvent) criminality.
The book is a provocative read for scholars and students in criminal law, policing, and surveillance, as well as for those interested in how areas of law, such as immigration, health, and anti-terrorism, are mobilizing the logics of risk and surveillance in new ways that emphasize precaution. The authors invite legal scholars to place the analytical lens of precrime on criminal and regulatory practices in Canada as well as other Western nations across the globe.
Chapter 1: Precriminalities: Police Investigation, Substantive Criminal Law, and Administrative Processes
Chapter 2: Creating Police Powers: A Canadian Judicial Innovation
Chapter 3: Sex, Sexuality, and the Law: ‘Society’s Proper Functioning’ and Precautionary Governance of Sex Work
Chapter 4: Administering Criminal Law - Preventing Crime and Punishing the Precriminal
Chapter 5: The Future of Precrime: Where Do We Go Now?
The ways in which crime is constructed in society is of time-honored interest to criminologists across the globe. The ever-changing landscape of what is criminal and what is not affects scholars and policymakers in their approach to the body of law defining prohibited conduct, how that law evolves, and the modes by which it is administered. Rule of law cannot exist without a transparent legal system, strong enforcement structures, and an independent judiciary to protect against the arbitrary use of power. Critical consideration of the mechanisms through which societies attempt to make the rule of law a reality is essential to understanding and developing effectual criminal justice systems. The Directions and Developments in Criminal Justice and Law series offers the best research on criminal justice and law around the world, offering original insights on a broadly defined range of socio-legal topics in law, criminal procedure, courts, justice, legislation, and jurisprudence. With an eye toward using innovative and advanced methodologies, series monographs offer solid social science scholarship illuminating issues and trends in law, crime, and justice. Books in this series will appeal to criminologists, sociologists, and other social scientists, as well as policymakers, legal researchers, and practitioners.