Crimes by the Capitalist State

An Introduction to State Criminality

Edited by Gregg Barak

Subjects: Criminology
Series: SUNY series in Radical Social and Political Theory
Paperback : 9780791405857, 302 pages, July 1991
Hardcover : 9780791405840, 302 pages, July 1991

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Part I: Prologue

Toward a Criminology of State Criminality
Gregg Barak

Part II: Classical Forms of State Crime


1. Passion and Policy: Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in Australia 1980-1989
Kayleen M. Hazlehurst

2. Subcultures as Crime: The Theft of Legitimacy of Dissent in the United States
Susan L. Caulfield

Part III: On the Dialectical Nature of State Crimes


3. The War on Drugs: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
Christina Jacqueline Johns and Jose Maria Borrero N.

4. Multi-Tiered Terrorism in Peru
R. S. Ratner

5. Piracy, Air Piracy, and Recurrent U. S. and Israeli Civilian Aircraft Interceptions
Daniel E. Georges-Abeyie

6. The Abandoned Ones: A History of the Oakdale and Atlanta Prison Riots
Mark S. Hamm

Part IV: Crimes of State Omission


7. Old Wine, New Bottles, and Fancy Labels: The Rediscovery of Organizational Culture in the Control of Intelligence
A. Stuart Farson

8. When the State Fails: A Critical Assessment of Contract Policing in the United States
John Wildeman

9. Contradictions, Conflicts, and Dilemmas in Canada's Sexual Assault Law
Ronald Hinch

10. The Informal Economy: A Crime of Omission by the State
Stuart Henry

Part V: Epilogue

Resisting State Criminality and the Struggle for Justice
Gregg Barak




Crimes by the Capitalist State systematically examines a broad spectrum of state criminality including state terrorism, torture and murder, drug smuggling and arms trafficking, espionage and surveillance, and violations of internationally established human rights. While exploring crimes by the state from both a national and international perspective, this book also reflects the latest scholarship in comparative political and social science, especially as these relate to current developments in the political economy, the study of crimes by the powerful, and theories on state and social control.

This book stresses the importance of studying crimes by the state as a prerequisite for peacemaking worldwide. For example, state crimes such as the Iran-Contra Affair or the apartheid policies of South Africa should become the subject matter of criminologists and lay persons alike. The collective evidence gathered here demonstrates that state criminality is primarily an organizational and structural phenomenon, and only secondarily an individual phenomenon, whether committed for ideological reasons or for personal profit.

Gregg Barak is Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Alabama State University. He is the author of In Defense of Whom? A Critique of Criminal Justice Reform and serves as book review editor for Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order.


"It is a lively book that addresses important contemporary issues. It exhibits a comparative/international perspective, and takes provocative positions on provocative issues. Stimulating. Readable. " — Tony Platt, California State University, Sacramento