This literature review tracked changes over time in U.S. government policies on countering violent extremism.
It took the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and, more importantly, the four coordinated attacks of September 11, 2001, to produce substantial interest among criminologists in the empirical study of violent political extremism. In the past two decades, this situation has changed dramatically with research on political extremism now routinely appearing in major criminology outlets, theses and dissertations, and meetings of professional associations. There has been a burgeoning literature in the past twenty years, moving rapidly toward developing a criminology of political extremism. Still, given how recent the sustained interest in this area has been, there are research areas where data are weak or nonexistent, rigorous methods are lacking, and results are disconnected from theoretical frameworks. The review of government responses to violent political extremism was developed along a continuum ranging from the most repressive to the most conciliatory. In general, the trajectory of research on governmental policies to counteract terrorism resembles the early years of criminology itself, characterized by an incredible amount of energy and imagination but at the same time struggling to produce strong empirical data, cutting-edge methods, and sophisticated theoretical explanations. (Publisher Abstract)