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Prosecutors and the definition of the crime problem in Italy: balancing the impact of moral panics

Montana, R. (2009). Prosecutors and the definition of the crime problem in Italy: balancing the impact of moral panics. Criminal Law Forum, 20(4), pp. 471-494. doi: 10.1007/s10609-009-9108-y


In western liberal countries late modernity brings in its wake certain distinctive patterns of crime control. Common sense, experience and stigmatization of crime and deviance seem to be the basis on which crime control policies are debated and eventually implemented. Insecurity and fear of crime are the enemies for an effective legal system. What is left for specialist crime control agencies? The Italian case can demonstrate that legal actors, in particular prosecutors, can still effectively participate in the developing of the criminal justice discourse. I will argue that prosecutorial practice can possibly provide the information to understand the socio-legal conditions that shape prosecutors’ role during the pre-trial phase. This role is far from being merely reactive to certain social, historical and cultural developments. Prosecutors’ reactions appear to be aimed at restating their role of guardians of the law. While they react to external influences they try not to adapt to them. In this way they partially mediate the impact of moral panics.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The original publication is available at
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
SWORD Depositor:
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