What is it about crime stories that make people hunger for them? The volume of content produced in these genres – from the pages of mysteries and thrillers to audio and visual dramas and reconstructions – hints at a primal and deeply ingrained fascination with the darker side of human nature.
This fascination is often rooted in fictional material. But the ways that crimes play out in the real world – and the ways they are dealt with by both our justice systems and our differing approaches to and arenas for punishment – are often more complex, compelling and shocking than the most complicated imagined plots.
Beyond the impact of individual cases, broader discussions about justice and punishment continue to attract attention. Debates on prison privatisation build on one hand, with debates for their abolition building on the other. Justice reinvestment seeks to redirect spending from the prison system back to communities, where it can be used to reduce crime in the first place. A growing number of communities are tackling violence and crime as public health issues – and the power of the bystander approach speaks to roles and responsibilities beyond the traditional divide of victim and perpetrator.
The advent of the internet has opened up new landscapes and opportunities for fraud, while the global webs that underpin both perpetrations and apprehensions continue to expand and evolve in our hyper-connected world. Futurists predict courts where AI automates the processes of legal reasoning. And the rights of nature movement may upend our sense of adversarial relationships to one where landscapes can make claims as legal entities.
If colonial Australia sprang, in part, from changing ideas of crime and punishment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, how do the still-evolving narratives of crime, punishment and justice impact on who we are now, and on the kind of society we would like to be?
Griffith Review 65: Crimes and Punishments invites stories that brush with the law: from felons to forensics, from true crime to social justice, from corruption and criminology to Koori courts and other revolutionary reforms. We seek essays, reportage, and stories – fiction and non-fiction – as well as memoir and poetry that delve into the narratives, the policies and the procedures of the myriad aspects of crime, justice and punishment in Australia today.
Full submissions only.