Critical Criminology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 39–55 | Cite as

Critical Criminology in the Life and Work of Eugene Victor Debs



The American socialist, Eugene Debs, made a profound impact on American politics during the first half of the twentieth century. Although socialism and the public’s knowledge of Debs have waned since then, we argue, in this paper, that Debs, his writings and his life’s work are relevant to criminology—particularly critical criminology—yet neglected during the formative development of critical criminology. In this paper, we describe Debs’ biography and politics. We document his first-hand experiences with the legal system (including incarceration), his consistent critiques of capitalism and his written and spoken texts that empirically link American-style capitalism and its captains to US politics. Last, we describe Debs’ only published book on prisons and prison life and its unfortunate omission from the criminological canon yet argue that Debs’ life and written and spoken word remain central to social justice.


Social Justice Corporate Crime Critical Criminology Socialist Party Capitalist Class 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RichmondUSA
  2. 2.ManhattanUSA

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