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Dealing with Social Disorders that Should Not Exist: The Khrushchev-Era Soft Line on Petty Crime and the Struggle against Hooliganism in Soviet Russia during the Thaw

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In the late 1950s, the Khrushchev regime decided to cut down on crime by focusing on the redemption rather than the repression of petty criminals. This soft-line approach centered on humaneness (gumannost'), peer reform and the reforging of petty criminals into productive Soviet subjects. However, central officials and vocal segments of the public worried that the soft line was being abused to coddle hardened criminals, to hide crime from state statistical registries and to ignore the problem of unsafe city streets. As a result of oppositional backlash, a hard line against crime was promulgated in the early 1960s that swung criminal policy back towards physical confrontation and custodial punishment.

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