Nils Christie (born 1928 in Oslo) is a Norwegian sociologist and criminologist. He is a professor of criminology at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo since 1966. Among his books is Crime Control as Industry.
"I don't like the term crime—it's such a big, fat, imprecise word," says the renowned University of Oslo criminologist. "There are only unwanted acts. How we perceive them depends on our relationship with those who carry them out." If a teenager swipes a wallet, we call it a crime. If he snakes a twenty from his dad, it's a family issue. Locking up the pickpocket only sets him up to learn worse tricks from hardened thugs. Better, Christie says, to treat him like a badly behaved son. Send him to counseling and require that he compensate his victim. Similarly, drug abuse should be considered a matter of public health, not criminal justice. Give addicts treatment instead of incarceration and you'll cure more of them and (bonus!) foster a more humane society. Of course, seriously violent criminals should be locked up, but Christie points out that the justice system does a poor job of determining which ones are so incorrigible that they need to stay behind bars.