chapter  3
Abolition in the times of pre-crime: a view from Germany
ByJOHANNES FEEST
Pages 10

The clearest case of pre-crime imprisonment constitutes retrospective security detention. It requires at least one prior offence; its imposition depends exclusively on predictions of the future. There is only a small step left to pure pre-crime imprisonment, without any prior offence. This pre-crime logic was aptly depicted by Philip K. Dick in his famous science fiction story Minority Report: in our society we have no major crimes but we do have a detention camp full of would-be criminals. It starts with what was originally, Pressure Group and Social Structure, bringing the topic of political action to the fore. Abolitionism as such had its heyday in Germany in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thomas Mathiesen's discussion of the social functions of imprisonment is only rarely mentioned in the current German criminological literature. It is somewhat ironical that originally Germany resisted the introduction of pre-crime measures and it was the Nazi regime that introduced them.