Crime, Punishment and Society Conference

Monday 10th - Tuesday 11th April, 2017


Venue: Bartolomé House, Winter Street, Sheffield, UK, S3 7ND

Crime represents a major challenge to our safety, security and wellbeing in contemporary advanced democracies, whilst punishment poses severe limits upon the freedoms of those subjected to it (or threatened with it – which is to say, all of us). Both crime and punishment speak to our experience as citizens of States, but are also (perhaps for that very reason) highly politically contingent. The interface between crime, politics and citizenship is therefore crucial to understanding criminal justice systems in contemporary legal systems.

Our Keynote Speakers were;

  • R. A. Duff (Philosophy, Stirling)
  • Lisa Miller (Political Science, Rutgers)

This two-day conference explored the interrelations between crime, criminal justice, politics, and society.  The conference was be loosely organised around three core themes, outlined below:

Theme One: Crime, Politics, and Society

What socio-political, -cultural, -economic, and -historical factors influence the legislative (and lay) definition of crime, the discretion of investigatory agencies, and the actions of offenders, non-offenders, and ex-offenders? What impact do political-economic policies have upon criminalisation, crime rates, and modes of punishment? How do demographic factors and indices of social marginalisation (e.g. gender, ethnicity, class, age, income) affect criminalisation, criminality, and desistance from crime?

Theme Two: Crime, Justice, and Democracy

How does (representative and direct) democratic decision-making contribute to criminal justice? What would an authentically democratic criminal justice system look like, and how do we get achieve it in contemporary Global Western polities? Is there a crisis of legitimacy in criminal justice to which greater democratic control is the answer? To what extent can (and should) criminal justice institutions, actors, and processes accommodate public opinion? What role, if any, should experts and elites play in criminal justice decision-making?

Theme Three: Crime, Punishment, and Community

What is “the community” in 21st Century Global Western societies, and where does it fit into criminal justice? What role can communities play in the detection, investigation, and prosecution of crimes? Can (and should) the community serve as a locus of punishment in its own right, and/or as an ‘alternative to imprisonment’? Can communities be engaged with by criminal justice agencies without jeopardising the equal treatment of suspects, defendants, offenders, and victims?

If you have any questions, please contact Dr David Hayes (

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