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Organised Criminals as "Agents of Obligation": The Case of Ireland

NCJ Number
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research Volume: 17 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2011 Pages: 253-266
Claire Hamilton
Date Published
December 2011
14 pages
This article examines Brown's thesis on contemporary shifts in penal policy.
Relying on Brown's (2005a, b) thesis that contemporary shifts in penal policy are best understood as a reprisal of colonial rationality, so that offenders become "non-citizens" or "agents of obligation," this article argues, firstly, that this framework (with certain important refinements and extensions) finds support in developments in Irish criminal justice policy aimed at offenders suspected of involvement in "organized crime." These offenders have found themselves reconstituted as "agents of obligation" with duties to furnish information about their property and movements, report to the police concerning their location and, importantly, refrain from criminal activity or face extraordinary sanctions. Secondly, it is submitted that this draconian approach to the control of organized crime is built on false premises; specifically the idea that "organized crime" as such exists and is best controlled through restrictions on the freedom of key groups or "core nominals." (Published Abstract)