Crimewarps: the future of crime in America. – book reviews

Melanie Wells

The future of lawlessness Crime, as we know and fear it, is changing. By the year 2000 suburbanites will be more concerned with protecting their credit than their Volvos. At the same time, a growing number of college and professional women will “moonlight” as upscale hookers, smoothing sheets for the legalization of prostitution. And people will have as much to fear from wayward senior citizens as they will from delinquent teens.

Such is the future according to sociologistGeorgette Bennett, whose book Crimewarps: The Future of Crime in America (Doubleday, $19.95) is chockfull of startling speculations, based on past and current trends, about the ills that are destined to erupt from a number of complex social forces. Bennett addresses six crime patterns, dubbed “crimewarps,” and argues that a new breed of criminal is on the horizon. This offender will be well educated, from the upper echelon of society and, increasingly, either a woman or a senior citizen. She predicts that women will commit more violent crimes–crimes of despair–and, as the population ages, that many baby boomers will become crafty “geriatric delinquents.”

The geography of crime willchange, too. Indeed, rather than prevailing in one region or another, it will permeate the nation. And white-collar, computer-oriented, technological offenses will affect us far more than the street crimes that today seem to haunt our every darkened alley. Bennett predicts that drug abuse, prostitution, homosexuality and gambling will follow us faithfully into the future, thriving with varying degrees of legalization. Her predictions about pornography, however, are confusing. She indicates that pornography will become increasingly popular as “an aid to infusing excitement into monogamous relationships and solitary sexual activity” resulting from herpes, AIDS and other health concerns. Yet at the same time, she suggests that religiosity will grow with the aging of the population, and pornography will be vehemently rejected by “an increasingly powerful voting bloc.”

Thanks to future technology, lawenforcement will be an easier task. But the use of computers and eaves-dropping devices may require that Americans sacrifice some of their civil liberties to crime fighters: “As we relinquish much of our privacy to computerized data banks, criminal justice efficiency will improve. Police will become more effective and impersonal, courts less crowded, prisons more exclusive…. Civil liberties will suffer–some more than others.” Bennett predicts that our right to privacy and Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures will be most severely eroded.

In the tradition of George Orwell’s1984, Bennett hypothesizes a menacing future. But three years ago we reread Orwell with amusement, relieved that our world was unlike the one that he conjured in his imagination. In the year 2000, Bennett’s book may or may not smack of truth, but right now it appears to offer an important and thoughtful glance ahead.

COPYRIGHT 1987 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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