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Kramer book explores "State-Corporate Crime"

Jan. 26, 2007

KALAMAZOO--A new book co-edited by a Western Michigan University professor is shedding light on how the connections between U.S. business and government factored into such high-profile debacles as the downfall of Enron and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Called "State-Corporate Crime: Wrongdoing at the Intersection of Business and Government," the book is a collection of case studies concerning not just Enron and the Exxon Valdez, but also the violation of American Indian treaty rights, radioactive contamination during nuclear weapons production, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the crash of ValuJet 592, the invasion of Iraq and Halliburton in Iraq.

It was co-edited by Dr. Ronald C. Kramer, professor of sociology and director of the Criminal Justice Program at WMU, and Dr. Raymond J. Michalowski, Arizona Regents Professor at Northern Arizona University.

The book pulls together theory and research on state-corporate crime, a concept Kramer and Michalowski developed and popularized in the early 1990s, and features numerous chapters written by Kramer's former students.

The two define state-corporate crime as illegal or socially injurious actions that result when one or more institutions of political governance pursue a goal in direct cooperation with one another or institutions of economic production and distribution.

"It primarily is an academic book, but we hope it can be used to inform the public and lead to policy changes. There are lessons that can be applied to current politics and policy," Kramer says.

WMU alumni who contributed chapters to the book, which was published in October 2006 by Rutgers University Press, include five who earned doctor of philosophy degrees: Dr. David Kauzlarich, Dr. Rick Matthews, Dr. Linda Robyn, Dr. Dawn Rothe and Dr. Nancy Wonders.

The book is available for $27.95 and can be purchased online by visiting amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

It has received international attention from criminologists and was the subject of a special session in early November of the American Society of Criminology's annual meeting in Los Angeles.

Kramer, whose criminology research specialties also include crime prevention and control strategies, came to WMU in 1978.

An active member of the local criminal justice community in Kalamazoo, he currently serves as chair of the Crime Prevention Committee of the Fetzer Institute's Kalamazoo County Coalition On Criminal Justice, and he is on the Steering Committee of Kalamazoo County's Better Tomorrows, a delinquency prevention grant program.

He is also a long-time peace and justice activist and a founding member of Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War (KNOW). He has been on the Executive Board of the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society since 1985, and he founded the annual Peace and Justice Education Week at the university in 1983.

The author of numerous publications, he also wrote the book "Crimes of the American State," published in 1998. He is currently working on a book titled "Crimes of Empire: The Bush Administration's Illegal War on Iraq," which analyzes the Iraq war as state crime.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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