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May 15, 2018 / C H Thompson

State crimes – revision notes with evaluative points

In their book ‘State Crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption,’ Green and Ward, 2004, defined state crime as illegal or deviant activities carried out by state agencies.

This includes all forms of crime committed either by or on behalf of states and governments such as genocide, torture, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and terrorism. Green and Ward identified two main explanations for state crime:

Integrated theory ->

  • state crime arises from similar circumstances to those of other crimes and involves the integration of three elements of the motivation of offenders:

1.opportunities for crime to be committed,

2. and failure of control,

3. and how these break up rules and generate state crime.

The crimes of obedience model ->

  • emphasises conformity to rules by suggesting that violent stats encourage obedience by those who carry out systematic human rights abuses (state-backed) such as murder, torture or genocide.

McLaughlin (2001) came up with 4 categories of state crime:

  1. Political crimes -> such as corruption or censorship
  2. Crimes by security and police forces -> such as genocide and torture
  3. Economic crimes -> such as violations of health and safety laws
  4. Social and cultural crimes -> such as institutional racism


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