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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals

Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals Beggars and Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals by Mark S. Fleisher



Yet another book in the line of "stuff Rory Miller recommends". The last one was psychology. This one is anthropology.



Beggars and Thieves is the culmination of a multi-year anthropological study done by Mark Fleisher. Fleisher, a former prison administrator, spent an enormous amount of time with street criminals, both inside and outside of prison, working to construct a picture of how these criminals are created, and perhaps, to start looking at how they might be treated (or how their criminal tendencies might have been prevented).



After an introduction and overview, the book follows a fairly straightforward pattern, beginning with the childhood of the street criminal, and tracing that life forward until it culminates in old age (provided the criminal gets there). In each chapter, Fleisher includes numerous quotes, stories, and other bits of evidence from his study to help bolster his argument, but also to help create a better picture of the mindset of the people that he's working with. The final chapter of the book brings Fleisher's studies into focus, with a detailed explanation of how Fleisher believes public policy needs to be altered to better address urban crime in America.



While the book is clearly aimed at policy makers, it has a great deal of value for anyone interested in enhancing their personal safety. Fleisher's evidence reinforces the idea that most criminals simply do not think the way the average law abiding citizen does. they are not operating on the same set of values, or even variations on the same set of values, that the non-criminal does. Understanding this mindset, and how it works, is something that everyone working to better the safety of those around them should look into. Definitely worth the read.

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