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Controlling "Dangerous" People

John Monahan and Gilbert Geis
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 423, Crime and Justice in America: 1776-1976 (Jan., 1976), pp. 142-151
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1041429
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Controlling "Dangerous" People
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Abstract

The label "dangerous" often has been applied in America to persons whose major threat lay in the fact that they offended the moral or esthetic sensibilities of those holding power. In the America of the Revolutionary period, there was comparatively little violent crime, but by today's standards, punishments tended to be harsh and/or humiliating. The mentally aberrant were seen as especially dangerous, since their condition was traced to a devilish infestation, and they were handled with great brutality. Blacks, too, often restive under slavery, were regarded as dangerous persons. Today, similar kinds of ascriptions as "dangerous" are applied to criminals, mental patients, and minorities - with similarly unconvincing evidence to justify the treatment such persons often receive. Danger ought to be determined on a social basis, not by theological or medical dictation, and the category ought to include all (but only) forms of human and group action which represent real threats.

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