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Synopsis

How is crime to be defined? Can crime be medicalized? Can crime be explained or even excused in terms of biological or environmental conditions? Can punishment ever fit the crime? And should punishment be primarily reformative or retributive? This book is not an attempt at a kind of literary CSI and it is not directly concerned with the popular interest in forensic science. Nor is it a handbook for crime investigators. It is rather a laypersons introduction to the ways in which many criminologists think about their subject. It is an academic yet accessible approach to the highly contentious issue of crime and punishment. Nevertheless, although it is theoretical and unashamedly revisionist in emphasis, it is also interlaced with relevant illustrative material. These case studies, only some of which will be well known, are drawn mainly from the UK, USA and France and are almost exclusively concerned with one type of crime, murder, in its various guises. It does not dwell on gratuitous details but concentrates on the motives and social circumstances of the crimes in question. Not least, it examines the explanations psychological and biological offered for such crimes and the legal dilemmas that these often present.

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