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Democratic Change and Crime Control
in Lithuania: Compiling New
Dr. Aleksandras Dobryninas
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As it was shown in this study, the development of democratic principles in Lithuanian society is challenged with difficulties created by crime situation. From the one hand, crime growth is inevitable price for the transition from authoritarian state to democratic one, from planned economy to free market economy. From another hand, it is a measure of disorder of society, inability of governmental institutions to find proper means for crime control and prevention. These factors could seriously demoralize society, and create authoritarian tendency among population. In Lithuania crime growth goes hand in hand with public dissatisfaction in democratic system, country development, protection of human rights.
In this context it is extremely important to turn attention to various kinds of systems of knowledge about crime in society, to set their structure, to learn their influence on the development of democratic institution of crime control and prevention.
Three systems of knowledge about crime in Lithuania (criminological discourses) have different sources and play unlike roles in society. Professional criminological discourse of academicians and lawyers inherits previous Soviet tradition, but at the same time opens to the Western democratic influence. Its development faces troubles because of absence of elaborated educational network, lack of resources for independent research, weak demand of the professional criminological knowledge in the society.
Public criminological discourse, that is maintained by commercialized crime news, creates distorted image of crime situation in society. Mass media, despite its positive role in informing and monitoring crime situation, became one of the main producer of crime myths. It creates tight psychological atmosphere in Lithuanian society, when majority of population, being affected by fear of crime, requires fast and effective methods in 'combating criminality'.
Political criminological discourse has appeared only recently. In this discourse one could find at least two opposite rhetoric: first one -- oriented to control and preventive mechanisms of Western democratic societies, and second -- oriented to the previous war methods of combating crime. It is not easy to determine and localize strictly this rhetoric, because political area is a field of political competition, and opponents are eager to dramatize situation and way of its improvement. Nevertheless, exploitation of war rhetoric in society, which majority shares authoritarian socialist orientation, could seriously and negatively influence not only implementation of democratic principles in national criminal policy, but -- development of democratic institutions as well.
Discourse is enough flexible and subtle symbolic form of invisible power. The same could be said about various kinds of criminological discourses in Lithuania. Of course, the process of their compiling should be carefully investigated. New elections of Seimas, from one hand, and strenghtening general political country's orientation to the West, from another hand, without doubt, could bring new light on strategy and tactics that are used in political criminological discourse, on its relationship with professional and public knowledge about crime.