In this article, I offer a critique of contemporary trends in "pro-minority" criminalization policy, defined as criminal offenses that are specifically designed to protect women and minorities. I show that, in the late 1970s, a new paradigm emerged for thinking about the role of criminalization in minimizing patterns of social inequality. I trace the historical processes that led to the emergence of this new paradigm and discuss its inherent limitations in meeting its stated aims. The discussion shows that these limitations are rooted in the embedding of contemporary "pro-minority" criminalization policy within the broader frameworks of neoliberal policymaking, and in the inherent flaws of the new vision of citizenship upon which these models rest. I argue that the potential contribution of criminalization to the alleviation of social inequalities can only be realized within a vision of citizenship that is radically different from the one endorsed by neoliberal governments over the last three decades.

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