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The Force of Law

Written by Mariana Valverde

Edited by Jane Springer

Series Title: Groundwork Guides

  • 144 Pages
  • 9780888998187
  • 7" x 5"
  • Reading age to 14



Publication Date May 01, 2010

"[The Groundwork Guides] are excellent books, mandatory for school libraries and the increasing body of young people prepared to take ownership of the situations and problems previous generations have left them." -- Globe and Mail

Most of us in liberal democratic countries think that we live under the rule of law. Governments make the rules, we live by them and the police enforce them if we try to break them. The Force of Law critically examines these assumptions.

Award-winning criminologist Mariana Valverde makes clear that while the law is usually regarded as the civilized, non-violent way to deal with harms and conflicts, violence is integral to law. After all, police are authorized to handcuff, manhandle, taser, and even kill people, and courts of law confine people to prison and, in some countries, order that they be put to death. Valverde shows that "proper" law is not always distinguishable from the rules imposed by various bodies of armed men. Worldwide, private security guards often act like police, but they serve their private clients, not the public at large. And publicly paid police officers spend much of their time managing information for other bureaucracies, instead of actually fighting crime or arresting criminals.


Mariana Valverde
Mariana Valverde is the director of the University of Toronto's Centre of Criminology, a noted international research center. She is the author of several books on questions of law and social control and has participated in many community organizations. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Jane Springer
Jane Springer is the author of Genocide, part of the Groundwork Guides series for which she is also the series editor. She is a consultant in international development and has lived and worked in Mozambique and India. She is the author of Listen to Us: The World's Working Children and translator of the Portuguese-language books Nest Egg and Tales from the Amazon. Jane Springer lives in Toronto.


"Valverde challenges our assumptions about the rule of law and the reality of what police really spend their time doing." School Library Journal

"Valverde sheds light on the poor choices afforded both civilians and police in impoverished or narcotic-producing regions." CM Magazine