FROM DANGEROUSNESS TO PRECAUTION: Managing Sexual and Violent Offenders in an Insecure and Uncertain Age

Hebenton, Bill; Seddon, Toby
May 2009
British Journal of Criminology;May2009, Vol. 49 Issue 3, p343
Academic Journal
Theorists such as Ewald and Ericson, in their respective writings, argue that, increasingly, governmental responses to incalculable, but high-consequence, threats to life and security are framed by what has been described as 'precautionary logic'. Neither theorist sought to analyse and develop the argument with regard to the problem of protecting the public from 'dangerous' sexual and violent offenders. This article takes up this challenge. It re-describes and refines features common to their characterizations of 'precaution' and examines how this approach to risk management is playing out in the context of decision-making practices. We outline the significance of this process and show how precautionary logic is refiguring the institutions of law and science in the management of sexual and violent offenders. Lastly, we consider the implications of our analysis for the normative politics of risk and security by exploring how the approach to the future entailed in the paradigm enframes `security' and arguably stifles democratic participation and innovation in ways of responding to our fears.


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