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The Rise of Criminal Background Screening in Rental Housing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2018


This article investigates the recent rise of criminal background screening in rental housing as a case study of the diffusion of actuarial social control. That case study suggests that actuarial techniques have spread more widely through the crime prevention field than sociolegal scholars have recognized, replacing disciplinary efforts to diagnose and alter the behavior of individuals with actuarial efforts to identify and isolate high-risk groups. This actuarial strategy has proliferated not only because new discourses encouraged it but also because new institutional structures facilitated it. That conclusion illustrates the importance of structural (rather than cultural) factors in shaping society's response to crime—particularly the growing availability of the collective institutional capacity that actuarial social control requires.

Copyright © American Bar Foundation, 2008 

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