Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Matthew C. Leone
“Net widening” or “widening the net” is the name given to the process of administrative or practical changes that result in a greater number of individuals being controlled by the criminal justice system. The net of social control is widened to manage the behavior of a greater number of individuals. Historically, the practice of widening the net was an issue only for juvenile justice authorities. Social and legal change often criminalized previously acceptable juvenile behavior (e.g., curfews, truancy, loitering), allowing the system to control a greater number of juveniles, widening the net of social control. Today, the practice has spread beyond the confines of juvenile justice, and many critics have charged the system with widening the net in many areas of legal and correctional practice. In the 1980s, many politicians and justice system reformers sought to minimize the flexibility of the criminal justice system and to enhance deterrence through the ...