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Is Criminal Violence a Non-communicable Disease? Exploring the Epidemiology of Violence in Jamaica

There is a high level of criminal violence that afflicts the Jamaican society. While it is certainly noncommunicable in the context of medicine and public health, the concepts of social contagion and the well-established fact of the intergenerational transfer of effects of trauma raise questions as to whether or not it is non-communicable in a social sense. Historically, scholars have linked Jamaican criminal violence to three main roots: poverty and urban decay, political patronage, garrisonisation and more recently to a fourth, the growth in transnational organized crime (TOC). Traditionally as well, policymakers have brought the three discrete perspectives of criminology, criminal justice and public health to bear on the problem. This paper applies a conceptual framework derived from a combination of epidemiology and the behavioural sciences to argue that a sustainable resolution to this looming and intractable social problem must take the form of a cocktail of policies that encompasses all three approaches at levels ranging from the community to the international.
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e-Published: 03 Feb, 2014
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