Dr Gabrielle Watson to publish 'Respect and Criminal Justice'

Dr Gabrielle WatsonDr Gabrielle Watson’s first book, Respect and Criminal Justice, has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press (Clarendon Studies in Criminology). The series provides a forum for work in all aspects of criminology and criminal justice, broadly defined, and is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the field, having published modern classics including Sparks, Bottoms and Hay’s Prisons and the Problem of Order (1996) and Liebling’s Prisons and their Moral Performance (2004).

The series was launched in 1994 by Professor Roger Hood following discussions between Oxford University Press and the leading criminology centres at Oxford, Cambridge and the LSE. It is the successor to the Cambridge Studies in Criminology series, inaugurated by Sir Leon Radzinowicz – the ‘founding father’ of British criminology – and JWC Turner some 75 years ago.

Gabrielle is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Law and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Christ Church. Her book arises from her doctoral research at Oxford and was prompted by an enduring sense of curiosity as to why criminal justice institutions – whether by neglect or intent – collectively devalue a moral value as fundamental as respect. It emerges, for example, that these institutions routinely appeal to the word ‘respect’ – relying on its inclusive ethos in official discourse when it is expedient to do so – but rarely and only superficially address the prior question of what it is to respect and be respected. Despite sustained reflection on the ‘democratic design’ of these institutions in recent decades, respect is more akin to a slogan than a foundational value of criminal justice practice.  

Gabrielle’s current research, on ‘keywords’ and criminal justice, considers how aspirational terms such as ‘courtesy’, ‘tolerance’, ‘fairness’, ‘decency’, ‘humanity’ and ‘respect’ – together with the legal values that these terms represent and reflect – shape the practice of policing and imprisonment. The project aims to offer a challenging corrective to current scholarship which, at best, gestures towards the significance of our linguistic choices for those we seek to police and punish. It is the first study in the field of criminal justice to be conducted at Christ Church in over a decade.