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Saints Under SiegeThe Texas State Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints$
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Stuart A. Wright and James T. Richardson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795286

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795286.001.0001

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Large-Scale FLDS Raids

Large-Scale FLDS Raids

The Dangers and Appeal of Crime Control Theater

(p.178) 7 Large-Scale FLDS Raids
Saints Under Siege

Camille B. Lalasz

Carlene A. Gonzalez

NYU Press

This chapter examines the 2008 Texas state raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (FLDS) at the Yearning for Zion Ranch and the 1953 raid on Short Creek in Arizona in terms of “crime control theater” (CCT), along with the dangers of relying on such CCT actions. It first provides a background on the large-scale raids on the two FLDS communities before discussing four criteria for a legal response to be characterized as CCT: reactionary social response to moral panic; unquestioned acceptance and promotion of the response; acceptance of the response based on appeals to mythic narratives; and empirical failure of the response. It then considers several problems associated with CCT, including false claims of success, unintended deleterious effects, and stunted public discourse. It argues that the ineffectiveness of the raids, combined with the detrimental effects that they caused, highlight the need to develop more effective policies for discovering, investigating, and prosecuting polygamy and other illegal behaviors that take place within small religious communities such as the FLDS.

Keywords:   state raid, Texas, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, Yearning for Zion Ranch, Short Creek, Arizona, crime control theater, moral panic, polygamy

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