Rosen Explores the Criminalization of States in New Book

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Dr. Jonathan Rosen, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Arts and Sciences, celebrated the release of his latest book, The Criminalization of States: The Relationship between States and Organized Crime. The piece was edited by Rosen, Bruce Bagley, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, and Jorge Chabat, a professor in the Department of Pacific Studies at the University of Guadalajara.

The volume examines the relationship between states and organized crime and seeks to add to the theoretical literature for analyzing the criminalization of the state. The volume also explores the nature of organized crime in countries throughout the Americas from Central America to the Southern Cone. The book is comprised of 18 chapters that include case studies about Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina.

“While there are many books on organized crime, there has been a need for a comprehensive book that examines the relationship between the state and organized crime,” Rosen said. “We argue that the state determines the type of organized crime. For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico controlled the entire system for over 70 years. This political party can best be described as a machine plagued by corruption. The PRI negotiated with organized crime groups to reduce violence. In 2006, the President of Mexico launched a war on drugs that changed the relationship between the state an organized crime and resulted in high levels of drug-related violence. Today, there are states within Mexico where there is a very blurry line between organized crime and the state.”

The book also examines the consequences of policies to combat drug trafficking and organized crime.

“In the 1990s, the Colombian government implemented what is known as the kingpin strategy,” Rosen said. “They contended that toppling Pablo Escobar would dismantle the notorious Medellín cartel. The Colombian government dismantled the two major cartels (Cali and Medellín), but 300 smaller cartels emerged. This example demonstrates how the nature of organized crime shifted after the demise of the world’s most notorious drug trafficker.”

Rosen and his team also worked with Amanda Gurecki ’19, a criminal justice and psychology major, who served as a co-author for the introduction and conclusion.

“It was wonderful to be able to publish something with a Holy Family student,” Rosen said. “I really enjoy being able to give students who are interested the opportunity to participate in research.”