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Crime, Justice and Society Seminars

The Crime, Justice and Society seminars are co-hosted by the Criminal Law and Criminology subject areas of Edinburgh Law School, and are a venue for research presentations and discussions on a broad range of topics. 

BLM protest

The seminar series takes up the remit of the former Centre for Law and Society for socio-legal scholarship. Seminars are open to all, and where possible recordings are available for past events. See event links for registration details or recordings.

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Transcending the boundaries of punishment: On the nature of citizenship deprivation

05 October 2020

Speaker: Milena Tripkovic



The Rational Myths of the Carceral State

22 October 2020

Speaker: Jonathan Simon, UC Berkeley Law



The Scottish jury study

09 November 2020

Speakers: James Chalmers and Fiona Leverick, University of Glasgow


The Construction of Guilt in China

Speaker: Yu Mou
Date: Mon 30 November 2020

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Towards a map of sentencing

01 February 2021

Speaker: Dr Mojca Plesničar, Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law Ljubljana


Rap lyrics in criminal trials: What does the case law tell us?

Mon 22 February 2021

Speaker: Abenaa Owusu-Bempah, Assistant Professor of Law, LSE



Evangelical wings and inmate participation in prison governance in Latin America 

Thu 11 March 2021

Speaker: Prof Máximo Sozzo, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina



Femicide: pathways for research and mobilization across the world 

Speaker: Consuelo Corradi
Date: Thu 25 March 2021
Time: 16:00-17:30 (UCT/GMT)

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Justice for children who have been involved with organised armed violence in Colombia

4 November 2019

Speaker: Tove Nyberg

Ms Tove Nyberg discussed her qualitative, socio-legal case study on state responses to children who have been involved with local armed organisations in Colombia. The presentation centred around a part of the analysis on definitional paradoxes in relation to armed violence and groups, an expanding transitional justice framework, and drivers of change within the youth justice system.

Tove’s work unpacks the state responses in form of punitive (youth) justice measures and contrasts them with the restorative victim-centred programs that are available for children who have been part of armed groups recognised as parties to armed conflict in Colombia. This is done through an interview study with judicial actors, policy-makers, and experts from international and national organisations complemented with observations and a document analysis.

Police officers’ reasoning about violence in close relationships: An application of Burke's pentad in the analysis of language (and thought)

18 November 2019

Speaker: Jarmo Houtsonen

Dr Houtsonen discussed emerging findings from his research exploring how police officers make sense of violence in close relationships (the Finnish term of law and policy, lähisuhdeväkivalta, which is broadly equivalent to the use of the term domestic violence in Scotland).

Towards a Morally Contextualised Understanding of Respect for Persons in the Criminal Law

11 December 2019

Speaker: Louise Kennefick

Dr Louise Kennefick’s research aims to shed light on how our current criminal law structures, which are intended and assumed to communicate respect for the subject, are based on a moral philosophical concept deriving from the Enlightenment, with a focus on respect as a means of agency recognition and rational choice. It highlights the contingent nature of respect, and the fact that the present reading of the concept not only falls short of its own moral philosophical ideal, but is inherently problematic in terms of the practical consequences for the person before the law.

Louise discussed how the backend of the criminal justice system is tasked with attempting to rebuild respect in the relationship between the offender and community, and argued for a change in how our present structures of guilt and responsibility attribution are constructed in order to accommodate a fuller notion of respect at an earlier point in the criminal justice journey. The overall aim of the research, then, is to reposition the concept of respect so that it is more fully acknowledged in terms of its significance as a symbolic placeholder, a mode of moral communication, an experience of community morals, and a basic human emotion.

Illegal Drugs and Public Corruption: Crack Based Evidence from California

20 January 2020

Speaker: Babak Jahanshahi

It has been suggested that the arrival of crack cocaine to the United States in the 1980s was responsible for the significant increase in drug related deaths and crime rates in low income and inner-city neighbourhoods, but can drug markets initiate a vicious cycle that results in more institutionalized corruption and thus pose a further important problem for society?

Dr Babak Jahanshahi discussed and introduced the synthetic control method (SCM) which according to Athey and Imbens (2017) is the most important innovation in the policy evaluation literature over the last 15 years. He showed how he and colleagues applied SCM to estimate the causal effect of drug markets on public corruption in California.

The mutable defendant: from penitent to rights-bearing and beyond

3 February 2020

Speaker: Rachel Gimson

Contemporary criminal justice is premised on a rights-bearing defendant safe-guarded from arbitrary state punishment by due process. The paucity of academic commentary on the role of the criminal defendant suggests that there is a common assumption that the role is static. However, the rights-bearing defendant is a relatively new concept. Through a legal history analysis, Dr Rachel Gimson demonstratesd that the defendant’s role can mutate in response to pressures placed on the criminal trial. Broadly, there have been three conceptualisations of the defendant; the penitent Anglo-Norman defendant, the advocate defendant of the jury trial, and the rights-bearing adversarial defendant. Importantly, the shift from one conceptualisation to another has occurred gradually and often without commentary or conscious effort to instigate change. There are many contemporary pressures that could be impacting on the rights-bearing defendant. The concept of a mutable defendant provides a new theory through which to analyse these pressures.

This seminar considered the introduction of adverse inferences regarding the right to silence and disclosure, and the rise of ‘digilantism’. These new pressures, it is suggested, help to facilitate a rhetoric of deservingness that goes against the rights-bearing defendant and raises the risk its role could once again be mutating.