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Title: Black women and the criminal justice system
Author: Agozino, Onwubiko
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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The objective of this dissertation is to demonstrate that victimisation is not punishment. Although this thesis statement sounds simplistic enough, there is a need to demonstrate its validity because the theory and practice of punishment focus exclusively on 'the punishment of offenders' as if anyone who is 'punished' is necessarily an offender. A review of the philosophy and theory of punishment reveals that the punishment of the innocent is conceptualised as a logical impossibility or contradiction because punishment is conventionally construed to presuppose an offence. The present dissertation argues that the punishment of the innocent is not always a mistake or a miscarriage of justice but also an inherent feature of the adversarial nature of criminal justice which assumes formal equality between parties who are substantively unequal in class, race and gender relations. This dissertation is guided by the assumption that the more central punishment is to any theory or practice of criminal justice the greater the tendency for that theory or practice to conceal or truncate relatively autonomous issues that are routinely packaged, with, and thereby colonised by, the conceptual empire of punishment. The historical materialist theory of the articulation of race, class and gender relations is applied here to show how poor black women in particular, poor black people and poor women in general, are uniquely vulnerable to victimization-as-punishment and victimization-in-punishment and how they struggle against these. The former refers to the 'punishment' of innocent people sometimes because they are close to targeted individuals and sometimes because they are framed and made to appear guilty. The latter refers to punishment which is unusual or out of proportion in relation to the nature of the offence. The concept of colonialism is employed in this thesis to underscore the close links between the law-and-order politics of today and the imperial traditions of the past and to emphasise the colonisation of relatively autonomous institutions and processes by the criminal justice system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available