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The Illusion of Prison Reform

Corrections in Canada


Herbert Gamberg and Anthony Thomson

This monograph offers a brief overview of ideologies of imprisonment which have been developed in Western corrections, and analyses recent attempts to implement reforms in Canadian prisons. The history of modern corrections has been replete with criticisms and periodic attempts at reform. The authors contend that some of the post-1945 innovations, such as the therapeutic community and the development of community corrections, which arose in critical response to the punitive prison, have been modified and institutionalized in an endemically conservative system. Ideologically, this has meant a return to the «first principles» of confinement and punishment. In this process, reforms become more explicitly instruments for the control of prisoners and the management of prisons.
Contents: Traces the ideological heritage of Canadian corrections from classical criminology to modern critical and phenomenological theory, and reviews the rise and decline of a recent community corrections trend and its replacement with a conservative opportunities principle.