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Policing Youth in Latin America

  • Mark Ungar
Chapter
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)

Abstract

Among the host of ills afflicting Latin America today—from poverty to political instability—youth has become the primary focus of both blame and concern. One of the most serious of the many problems that disproportionately affect young people is violent crime—marked by a 41 percent rise in homicides that has made Latin America the world’s deadliest region (PAHO 2002). Scholars and policymakers have brought out the causes of the rising crime rates, from poverty to authoritarian legacies. But they have neglected the centrality of youth—as both a group and as a concept—in understanding why crime has turned into a citizen security crisis in Latin America. The policing of youth, this chapter asserts, shows that the region’s response to crime is stuck between its long-standing, centralized, repressive, and often iron fist (mano dura) response on the one hand and, on the other, preventative policing based on addressing crime’s causes through citizen participation and institutional accountability. This impasse leads to contradictory and overly ambitious policies that allow police structures and practices to continue to be based on identifying, separating out, and cracking down on social sectors and areas regarded as inherently criminal—above all, on youth and in the spaces they congregate.

Keywords

Criminal Justice Police Officer Public Space Homicide Rate Gang Member 
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

© Gareth A. Jones and Dennis Rodgers 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Ungar

There are no affiliations available

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