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The Point of Probation. Rob Canton. Why probation?. To punish in the community To reduce reconviction To reduce the prison population. Could community sentences ever look like the ‘pains of imprisonment ’?

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Presentation Transcript

Why probation
Why probation?

  • To punish in the community

  • To reduce reconviction

  • To reduce the prison population

  • Could community sentences ever look like the ‘pains of imprisonment’?

  • Challenges from desistance research – interventions are rarely sufficient and often not necessary

  • Very little evidence that probation has this effect


Implications for governance
Implications for governance

… if probation is an agency for reducing reconviction, then it is that much harder to object to the involvement of any sector that is able to achieve this. If, on the other hand, probation is an institutional expression of certain values, this implies a quite different kind of debate about its organisation and governance.


Misgivings about the private sector
Misgivings about the private sector

  • Can (how could and why should) a private company act in the general public interest?

  • It is in the nature of commerce to expand. Firms will diversify their services and / or seek to provide them to increasing numbers. This will inevitably have a net-widening and inflationary effect on the penal system.


The moral limits of markets sandel
The moral limits of markets(Sandel)

  • The involvement of the market changes and can distort and corrupt the values of the social practices in question

  • How are we to value probation appropriately?

  • Direct implications for probation’s governance


Valuing probation
Valuing probation

  • Criminal justice is not a device for reducing crime but an institutionalised means of doing justice

  • Probation expresses a belief in the possibility of change and calls on communities to accept responsibilities to people who have committed crimes

  • The ethical and the personal should be the beginning and not an after-thought, guiding governance, policy and practice


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