Information Technology and Labeling: Are Community Responses Necessary?

Illya Lichtenberg, Montclair State University

With the rapid expansion of information technology, this paper contends that secondary responses, as proposed by Lemert, from the community are no longer necessary in acquiring a criminal label. With the proliferation of information available to government agencies (law enforcement and a host of others), private industries, and via the internet, it is possible to be labeled an offender (rather than deviant in general) and to be subjected to the harsh collateral consequences of a criminal stigma without being deviant at all or only deviant in isolated situations than in the past. Using examples of routine traffic enforcement practices and street level drug arrests, it is contended that labeling is creating "offenders" at a much higher rate than in the past. In addition, methods by which the crimninal justice system attempts to justify or blame the labeled victim are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006