The Persistent Prison?: Rethinking Decarceration and Penal Reform

The Persistent Prison?: Rethinking Decarceration and Penal Reform

by Maeve McMahon


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The Prison system is widely believed to be an immutable element of contemporary society. Many criminologists and sociologists of deviance believe that decarceration movements have failed to yield progressive reform, and that feasible alternatives to the prison system do not exist.

Maeve McMahon challenges these views. Reconstructing the emergence of critical perspectives on decarceration, she examines analytical and empirical problems in the research. She also points out how indicators of community programs and other penalties serving as alternatives to prison have typically been overshadowed through critical focus on their effects in 'widening the net' of control.

McMahon presents a detailed analysis of decreasing imprisonment, and of the part played by alternatives in this, during the postwar period in Ontario. Drawing from extensive documentary research, and from interviews with former correctional officials, she charts the changing climates of opinions, and socio-economic factors, which facilitated decarceration.

By situating her analysis in the context of theoretical and political arguments about the possibility of decarceration, McMahon provides in her work a stimulus to the development of progressive penal politics not just in Canada, but in all western countries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802076892
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 05/01/1989
Pages: 274
Product dimensions: 5.99(w) x 9.03(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Maeve McMahon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Law, Carleton University. In the early 1990s she served as a Policy Advisor, and Executive Assistant to the Minister of Correctional Services in Ontario.

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