And finally...

Over its first 26 years, cjm has been at the forefront of informed and accessible critique
By: 
Richard Garside

After 26 years of continuous publication, we are pausing the production of cjm at the end of 2015. During 2016 we will be taking stock of the magazine's achievements and planning how best to offer what has been the hallmark of cjm at its best: an informed and concrete analysis of justice and social harm developments, written in an accessible manner.

In this, the final issue in its current format, we have given over the pages to showcase some of our favourite articles from among the several hundred to have graced this magazine. The articles we have chosen cover a range of topics that have become prevailing areas of concern for the Centre in recent years. There are articles on the relationship between research evidence and policy-making; on political economy, social policy and social harm; on violence and criminalisation. They should not be read as an indisputable ‘greatest hits’ collection. They are simply the articles that stood out when we made the selection, both in the topics they cover and in their style of exposition. Others, using a different yardstick, would no doubt have made different choices.

The articles were all published in the past ten years. We thought it important that our selection retained a contemporary relevance; something that can be less easy to discern in articles published longer ago. Yet leafing through the earlier issues, one is struck by the prevailing relevance of many articles in the earlier issues, in general themes if not always in terms of their specific application to the here and now.

All the articles have been reproduced in their original format, reflecting the design changes within the magazine over the years. There are also instances where the author's academic institution or organisation may have changed during the intervening years, but we kept their original author citation for the time at which they wrote their article.

The first and second issues of cjm, published in 1989, covered the Magistracy and the Police respectively. In issue two, John Alderson, former Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall police, discussed the police use of lethal force, the challenge of policing ethnically diverse communities and the importance of accountable neighbourhood policing; all themes familiar to those engaged in contemporary policing discussions. The police are not always the cause of social conflict and distrust, he noted, ‘but unless they are aware of what they are doing when applying their power and authority, they may compound it’.

At that time, cjm was a modest 12 page magazine published twice a year. It went to four issues a year from 1992 and grew in length. In that year, issue 11 tackled a theme cjm was to return to in subsequent issues: crime and the media. Among the contributors was the journalist Victor Lewis-Smith, at the time the television critic of the Evening Standard. His savvy and sharp-witted article on a World in Action documentary – a programme which ‘succeeded in cramming every last uninspired cliché about juvenile crime into a mere 28 minutes’ – is a fun read and one of my favourites. His criticism of the programme-makers’ attempt ‘to reduce the complex problems of juvenile delinquency to a few hackneyed phrases’, is as relevant now as it was then. ‘Juvenile crime,’ he wrote, ‘seems to offer a problem for every solution’.

A year later, cjm 18 covered another prevailing theme: crime and the economy. The writer and activist Beatrix Campbell attacked ‘underclass’ notions used to explain the grinding effects of poverty. Such notions, she argued, drew ‘on a long tradition of class contempt for poor people’. Those who applied underclass notions ‘were not concerned with the survival strategies of pauperised places’. They also wrongly insinuated that turbulent family arrangements were the cause of poverty and exclusion, ‘as if the turbulence of family life … belonged only to the poor’. Scroll forward 20 years and the ‘troubled families’ is making many of the same mistakes.

In 1998, cjm 34 tackled the question of ‘criminology and its uses’. Wayne Morrison drew on his experience of attending that year's Annual Conference of the American Society of Criminology to criticise the lack of ‘big thinking’ in criminology. Such events had a number of functions, he observed, such as job hunting and networking. But ‘participating in grand intellectual debate(s) is not one of them’.
Issue 55, published in 2004, explored the causes of crime. Simon Hallsworth and Tara Young offered a challenging critique of another problematic notion: the ‘gang’. Delineating ‘what is and what is not one remains problematic’, they wrote. ‘When is a group of young men not a gang? Does it apply only when they are poor? Why not talk about corporations such as Enron (a very successful criminal gang but never classified as such) or indeed the activities of government?’

Over its first 26 years, cjm has been at the forefront of informed and accessible critique, as this quick taster of the earlier issues, and the articles in this issue, demonstrate. In 2016, as we finalise our plans for the next phase, we will making the back catalogue of all 102 issues free to download, so that everyone can benefit from the many insightful and significant articles we have published over the years.

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