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Speed Kills by Jeff Ferrell

Drug Wars, Crimes of the Automobile & A Cultural Criminology of Roadside Shrines

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jesus statue at roadside shrine by jeff ferrell (

Police chases killed more people than do marijuana in every state, by a magnitude of preposterous proportions. Automobiles cause the violent demise of more people than does methamphetamine. The war on drugs notwithstanding, the ongoing wartime construction of drugs as enemy and threat notwithstanding, there's a far more deadly adversary out there. 

It seems likely that some significant portion of illicit drug overdose deaths are more products of the drugs' illegality--that is, of the historical and ongoing criminalization of drugs--than of the drugs themselves, given the dynamics of impurity and misinformation that necessarily accompany illegal drug distribution, use, and control (see Young 1971; Kappler, Blumberg and Potter 2000). More to the point it seems likely, not to mention troublingly ironic, that police chases of "dangerous" drug suspects--"dangerous" in part because defined as so by those commanding the war on drugs--cause more danger and death than do the drugs themselves. 

In medicine, we'd call that iatrogenesis - doctor-induced illness, a cure worse than the disease. In criminal justice, we might call it bad policy and bad politics.

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Jeff Ferrell. Culture, Crime, and Cultural Criminology. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 3(2) (1995). 

Jeff Ferrell. 9-11 and the Public Construction of Commemoration. Teaching & Understanding Sept 11. 

Ferrell and Sanders. Cultural Criminology (1995)

Ferrell and Hamm. Ethnography at the Edge

Jeff Ferrell, Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy. Jeff's "Boredom, Crime and Criminology" (free full text .pdf) is based on his field research for this book. 

Intro ] [ 1 ] 2 ] 3 ] 4 ] 5 ] End ]

This text is excerpted from an article of the same title in Critical Criminology: An International Journal, v 11 #3 (2002). The full article (.pdf) is freely available from the 'key papers' section of Cultural Readers can also access full text via SpringerLink. 

Critical Criminology is the official journal of the American Society of Criminology's Division on Critical Criminology. The official homepage of the Critical Criminology journal is at Springer.

Traffic Deadlier Than Wars, WHO Says (Washington Post, May 13, 2003; Page A20)

Traffic kills four times as many people as wars and far more people commit suicide than are murdered, the World Health Organization said today. In two reports on injuries, both accidental and deliberate, the United Nations agency said they killed more than 5 million people in 2000, one-tenth of the global death toll.

Road deaths, totaling 1.26 million, claimed the highest number of victims, followed by suicide at 815,000 and interpersonal violence at 520,000. Wars and conflicts ranked sixth -- between poisonings and falls -- with 310,000 deaths.

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