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Globalizing Risk? Distinguishing Styles of 'Neo-Liberal' Criminal Justice in Australia and the USA

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice: The International Journal of Policy and Practice Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2002 Pages: 205-222
Pat O'Malley
Date Published
18 pages
This article examines the differences between the assessment of risk and the use of actuarial style justice in the United States and Australia.
The author points out that many researchers and policy makers have assumed that the United States is experiencing a global shift toward actuarial criminal justice policies that are repressive in nature. However, this article argues that this American-style actuarial justice that is based on a “risk society” thesis, has not been successfully exported from the United States into all industrial democracies. In order to explore this main thesis, the author examines two closely linked questions in this article. First, the author asks why it is that “actuarial justice,” which may be considered the most definitive form of risk-based criminal justice, has not been widely implemented in Australia. Second, the author wonders why Australia has rejected an American-style war on drugs. This American war on drugs has been a model of actuarial justice and has used actuarial techniques coercively. In lieu of such repressive drug policies, Australia has employed a national policy of drug harm minimization. Recent developments in Australia indicate that the realization of risk in these two countries is so divergent as to make the idea of the globalization of risk a shaky thesis. As such, to make global statements about the value or political character of criminal justice policies is foolhardy. Indeed, the author argues that the transportability of criminal justice policies across national borders is much more difficult than has been previously believed. Notes, references


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