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Posts Tagged ‘failure of rehabilitation’

“12 autres années de bagne pour Racine,” La Presse. November 21, 1980. Page A4.

Les tribulationsjudiciaires de Denis «Poker» Racine, 24 ans, en marge de toutes les frasques qu’il a commises ces derniers mois, bien qu’il ait été en prison depuis près de quatre ans, font partie de l’histoire ancienne depuis sa condamnation à 12 années additionnelles de bagne par le juge Jean-Guy Boilard, en Cour criminelle de Saint-Jérôme.

Cette peine, qui est consécutive à toute autre que peut purger Racine,vient de lui être imposée après qu’il eut été reconnu coupable, au terme du procès qu’il a subi au début du mois, pours a participation à une prise d’otages qui a duré 57 heures, au pénitencier Archambault de Sainte Anne-des-Plaines, en septembre 1979. 

Enprononçant cette sentence qu’il a qualifiée de sévère, le juge Boilard a expliqué qu’il avait pris en considération l’important rôle qu’avait tenu «Poker» Racine au cours de l’événement. L’un des trois mutins qu il’accompagnaient, Pierre Thibault, âgé de 20 ans, avait notamment été acquitté, après qu’il eut été établi qu’il avait justement été forcé par Racine à prendre part à la mutinerie.

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“Racine s’était évadé du
Palais de Justice avec
un otage: 4 ans de bagne ,” La Presse. October 1, 1980. Page H-12.

Denis «Poker»
Racine, le jeune
homme de 21 ans qui
avait réussi à s’évader du Palais de justice,
le 21 mars dernier,
alors qu’il plaidait lui même sa cause devant
la Cour d’appel,
et en séquestrant
momentanément une
femme greffier en la
menaçant d’un couteau,
a écopé d’une
peinte totale de quatre années de pénitencier,
hier, devant le
juge Guy Guerin.

En prononçant cette
peine, le magistrat
avait souligné qu’il
fallait comprendre,
sans qu’il soit excusable,
l’esprit de revolte
de ce jeune homme
qui avait quitté le
domicile familial à
l’âge de 12 ans, pour
ensuite être «trimballe»
d’institution en
institution, et finalement
aboutir à Pinel,
au moment de sa
majorité.

«Très certainement
que la Société a lt
droit de demander
protection aux tribunaux
dans des cas de
ce genre, de dire le
juge, mais on doit
également convenir
qu’elle récolte les
fruits amers qu’elle a
semés, l’accusé ayant
le droit, lui aussi, de
poser la question:
«Qu’avez-vous fait
pour moi. alors que
j’avais douze et quinze
ans».

Avant que le tribunal
ne se prononce
définitivement sur
son cas. Racine avait  voulu lui-même rappeler que sa situation
avait dramatiquement changé il y a
une dizaine de jours à
peine. Et pour le
mieux, cette fois.

Alors qu’il purgeait
une peine de prison à
vie pour meurtre au
premier degré (celui
d’un adolescent à qui
on avait voulu voler
son veston de cuir, à
la Place des Nations),
la Cour d’appel avait
modifié le verdict,
pour meurtre au second
degré, et sans
recommandation
quant à la période de
détention minimale
qu’il devra purger.

«Je considérais la
première peine comme
inhumaine, dit-il.
Je ne serais sorti du
bagne qu’ à 16 ans.
Mais, aujourd’hui, je
puis envisager d’être
libéré dans environ
six ans. Ce n’est plus
la même chose, j’ai
repris espoir, et j’espère aussi que vous
n’ajouterez pas vous même
à ce châtiment
déjà lourd.»

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“«Poker» Racine en voie de réhabilitation?” La Presse, September 20, 1980. Page F-28.

LEOPOLD  LIZOTTE

Denis «Poker » Racine, 24 ans, déjà douze
années de démêlées avec la justice derrire
lui. ballotté tout au long de son adolescence
d’une maison de correction à une autre, pour
finalement aboutir à Pinel et au bagne, aurait-il
compris, au cours des dernières heures,
que les juges n’étaient pas nécessairement
rancuniers, et la justic e fatalement
vengeresse? 

Airs qu’il y a quelques mois, il n’avait
apparemment en tête qu’un projet, celui de
quitter le pénitencier par tous les moyens,
hier, il a reconnu sa culpabilité à trois accusations
graves qui lui vaudront peut-être
deux ou trois autres années, à cet endroit.

Et le jeune homme super-agressif qui
avait fait pied de nez à la cour et aux autorités
policières, le 24 mars dernier, avait même
un certain air de repentence, lorsqu’il a reconnu
s’être évadé de la Cour d’appel en pointant
un «pic» sur la gorge d’une greffière pour
sortir de la sall e d’audienc e sans ennuis,
après avoir «désatmé» un garde, et quitter le
Palais de justice dix-sept étages plus bas,
après avoir retenu son otage pendant tout ce
temps.

Que s’est-il donc passé entre-temps?

C’est très impie, pourrait-on dire.

Lundi, son avocat. Me Dominique Talerico,
de l’Aide juridique, plaidait justement
devant cette même Cour d’appel son pourvoi
contre la condamnation à vie qui lui avait été
imposé e pour le meurtre, commis en 1977,
d’un adolescent à qui l’on avait voulu voler sa
veste de cuir.

L e verdic t du jury en avant été un de
meurtre au premier degré, il faisait face à la
détention ferme pour vingt-cinq ans.

Mais devant trois juges du plus haut tribunal
québécois, différents il est vrai de ceux
qui avaient ét é témoins de son évasion du
printemps, il plaida que la préméditation
n’avait pas ét é été prouvée , dans ce cas, et
que, partant, c’était un verdict de meurtre au
deuxième degré qui aurait dû être rendu.

La cour se déclar a du même avis, et la
condamnation fut conséquemment modifiée.

Restait à déterminer la sentence. Ou, tout
au moins, la durée minimale ce celle-ci.

Jeudi, les trois magistrats décidaient
donc, dans un autre temps de ne prononcer
aucune ordonnance, sur ce sujet. Ce qui veut
donc dire que Racine, au mieux-aller, pourrait
être remis en liberté après dix années
seulement de sa peine à perpétuité.

Et, selon son avocat, c’est ce qui a tout
changé.

Alors qu’il voulait combattre, et tout seul
au besoin, les accusations à la preuve aussi
évidente que suabondante, la double décision
de la Cour d’appel semble avoir tout changé
chez lui, a-t-il dit hier au juge Guérin.

Ce n’est plus le jeune homme qui faisait,
face à un quart de siècle au bagne, et qui n’a
pratiquement rien à perdre.

Il peut maintenant espérer.

Quant au procureur de la Couronne, M e
Contran Chamard, il n’a aucunement
«chargé» contre le prévenu qui, pendant deux
jours, avait été littéralement considéré
comme l’ennemi public no. 1, dans la métropole,
avant qu’il ne soit coincé dans une luxueuse
chambre de l’hôtel Bonaventure, où sa
bombance avait pris fin plus rapidement que
prévu.

Il a réclamé une année de détention pour
son évasion, deux autres pour la séquestration
de la greffière, et une autre pour avoir
tiré un coup de feu dans l’un des murs de
l’austère salle d’audience principale du plus
haut tribunal québécois.

Ces peines seront-elles concurrentes entre
elles? Ou s’ajouteront-elles à la peine à vi e
qui peut prendr e fin après dix ans, maintenant?

C’est ce que le juge Guérin décidera le 30.

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“On August 21, the prisoners at the Central Nova provincial jail in Burnside launched a peaceful protest, in solidarity with a nationwide prisoner strike in the United States, to call for basic improvements in health care, rehabilitation, exercise, visits, clothing, food, air quality and library access. The protest is ongoing.

East Coast Prison Justice Society stands in support of the Burnside prisoners’ efforts to alert the public to their urgent concerns. These concerns speak to ongoing gaps between provincial correctional practices and the fundamental human rights accorded to prisoners under both domestic and international law.

Among the concerns identified by the prisoners is lack of access to health care, including for serious mental or physical illness. This is an ongoing crisis at the Burnside jail compromising the lives and safety of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Lack of programming responsive to addictions and other problems directly relevant to criminalization and community re-integration is another urgent issue that the prisoners have legitimately brought forward.

A disproportionate proportion of provincial and federal prisoners are Indigenous or Black. Most are poor. Many struggle with addictions and mental health problems. A full 57 percent of those held in provincial correctional facilities in Nova Scotia are awaiting trial and therefore are presumed innocent. Some are held for months or even years prior to trial. All of these prisoners experience serious threats to their health and safety in our provincial facilities.

The provincial auditor general has been highly critical of Nova Scotia corrections for its failure to comply with Department of Justice policy, including policies on the authorization and review of solitary confinement. The auditor general has recommended adoption of quality assessment processes to identify systemic problems before major incidents occur. That recommendation is consistent with the federal government’s stated intention to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture, which requires domestic processes for inspecting places of confinement. This is one of many measures required in order to address the problems that the Burnside prisoners have raised.

The prisoners at Burnside have shown a willingness to find common ground with staff, who similarly want better conditions including improved access to health and programming for prisoners. Through this peaceful protest, the Burnside prisoners have invited the province to show that it is listening.

We ask the ministers of Justice and Health: How do they propose to show that they are listening? How do they propose to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that conditions of confinement are improved to meet basic human rights standards?

East Coast Prison Justice Society encourages government to publicly commit to a set of concrete measures through which it will respond to the concerns of the prisoners at Burnside and throughout the province.”

– East Coast Prison Justice Society, “As prisoners protest, is the province listening?The Coast, September 5, 2018.

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This column was written by an inmate at Burnside jail, as told to prisoner advocate El Jones. The writer’s name has been withheld to ensure his personal safety, and to protect the identity of his children.

A comment I heard on CBC Radio recently, made by someone who had been sentenced time and time again to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, resonated deeply with me:

“This facility gets worse and worse every time I come back.”

Another brother stated, “When you’re housed in this facility to be rehabilitated but instead you’re warehoused like merchandise, your government has failed you.”

The truth in these comments is real to me, even though it’s my first time being incarcerated. I personally feel that the public should be very much concerned with what has taken place inside the Burnside jail, because it is they, as taxpayers, who keep these doors open.

“Rehabilitation” and “transparency” are two words that should never be used in describing this facility. The bare necessities required for a healthy and productive life aren’t being provided here. Every time you can’t get a towel, a change of clothes, or a pair of shoes your size — “your government has failed you,” as my friend said.

Conditions at Burnside

Last Sunday, as we listened to callers to CBC tell us that we don’t deserve breathable air because if you “do the crime, you do the time,” three new people came onto our range without clothes, shoes or a towel to even take a shower. People have been assigned to this range without a change of underwear, or a mattress and without even a radio to pass the time.

It’s hard to even get a Tylenol, never mind medical treatment. I’ve seen people with diabetes and asthma not get the medication they need. If you don’t believe us about the conditions in here, you should believe the auditor general’s reports, or even what staff who work here have been saying.

There hasn’t been any programing for months, and we’ve been locked down for 23 hours per day. We are guaranteed time outside in accordance with the Corrections Act, but it only seems to matter to people that you get punished for breaking the rules when it’s our rights that are being violated.

We must also keep in mind that the majority (around two-thirds) at Burnside are here on remand. They, in the eyes of the law, are innocent until proven guilty. And those who are here who have been sentenced, well, they then have been sent to Burnside as punishment, not for punishment.

Our children are certainly innocent, and yet they can go years without even touching us, because they have to visit us behind glass. Most people don’t let their children go through that.

We are still human beings.

This is why we at Burnside are engaged in a peaceful protest. Through it, we hope to spread awareness of our plight, and raise the voices of the voiceless through solidarity with the communities we’ve come from, as well as activists who hear our call for dignity and constitutionally appropriate treatment.

We are making sure that nobody is confrontational with the guards because we want this to remain peaceful. Since August 19, when we released our statement, no one on the range has received a single disciplinary infraction. We are keeping ourselves calm and ordered because we want our non-violent message to be carried by those outside in solidarity with us.

Getting eyes on Burnside

The old ways of conversation, complaints, petitions and negotiations no longer work, and we want to avoid the violence of past protests. In those cases, people might refuse lock up, or damage property, but our protest is principled.

Through our outside support network, we decided to take a different approach, which has gained national and global attention. Right now, across the country, a lot of eyes are on Burnside — perhaps more than ever before — and so before the next “hot” news hits the papers, and the attention shifts to the next “hot” story, we hope to gain some traction in addressing some of the serious issues of our current situation.

We strikers want to send a big token of appreciation to all those who are in solidarity with us. Those who have spoken on our behalf, and shared our story. And for those still on the fence, it’s important to remember the words of Nelson Mandela: “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

– “I’m a Burnside jail inmate, and also a human being. Here’s why you should care about our protest,” CBC News. September 4, 2018.

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“It became increasingly apparent that the continuing problems of imprisonment – its failure to deter, to reform, to reduce criminality, etc. – were characteristic of the prison itself and not merely accidents of a flawed administration.”

– David Garland, Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies. Aldershot: Gower, 1985. p. 60.

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“It has been said that in prison all men are equal; but their natural inequalities are not removed by putting men in custody; they are only ignored; and prison treatment, being uniform, is therefore unequal treatment of individuals.”  

– James Devon, Glasgow Herald, 29 January, 1908.

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“We endeavor to cure crime by a system childlishly futile. As well might we sentence the lunatic to three months in the asylum, or the victim of smallpox to thirty days in the hospital, at the end of these periods to turn them loose, whether mad or sane, cured or still disease…Offenders must be dealt with as individuals, not as a class”

– Roland Molineux, “The Court of Rehabiliation.” Charities, 18 (1907), p. 739.

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“…sentencing reform — mainly consisting of reduced penalties for drug-related crimes — has received bipartisan support at both the federal and state levels. But this isn’t enough. We should also bring back discretionary parole — release before a sentence is completed — even for people convicted of violent crimes if they’ve demonstrated progress during their imprisonment.

Other democracies regularly allow such prisoners to be granted reduced sentences or conditional release. But in the United States the conversation about this common-sense policy became politicized decades ago. As a result, discretionary parole has largely disappeared in most states and was eliminated in the federal system. Prisoners whose sentences include a range of years — such as 15 to 25 years, or 25 years to life — can apply to their state’s parole board for discretionary parole, but they almost always face repeated denials and are sent back to wither away behind bars despite evidence of rehabilitation. (Inmates who have served their maximum sentence are released on what is called mandatory parole.)

Rejection is usually based on the “nature of the crime,” rather than an evaluation of a person’s transformation and accomplishments since they committed it. The deeper reason for the rejection of discretionary parole requests is simple: fear. Politicians and parole board members are terrified that a parolee will commit a new crime that attracts negative media attention.

But this fear-driven thinking is irrational, counterproductive and inhumane. It bears no connection to solid research on how criminals usually “age out” of crime, especially if they have had educational and vocational opportunities while incarcerated. It permanently excludes people who would be eager to contribute to society as law-abiding citizens, while taxpayers spend over $30,000 a year to house each prisoner. And it deprives hundreds of thousands of people of a meaningful chance to earn their freedom.

But are prisoners who have served long sentences for violent crimes genuinely capable of reforming and not reoffending? The evidence says yes. In fact, only about 1 percent of people convicted of homicide are arrested for homicide again after their release. Moreover, a recent “natural experiment” in Maryland is very telling. In 2012, the state’s highest court decided that Maryland juries in the 1970s had been given faulty instructions. Some defendants were retried, but many others accepted plea bargains for time served and were released. As a result, about 150 people who had been deemed the “worst of the worst” have been let out of prison — and none has committed a new crime or even violated parole.

This outcome may sound surprising, but having spent one afternoon a week for the past three years teaching in a maximum-security prison in Maryland, I’m not shocked at all. Many of the men I teach would succeed on the outside if given the chance. They openly recognize their past mistakes, deeply regret them and work every day to grow, learn and make amends. Many of them are serving life sentences with a theoretical chance of parole, but despite submitting thick dossiers of their accomplishments in prison along with letters of support from their supervisors and professors, they are routinely turned down.”

Marc Morjé Howard,

The Practical Case for Parole for Violent Offenders.” Opinion, The New York Times. August 8, 2018.

Photograph is
“An inmate at St. Clair Correctional Facility in Alabama.” William Widmer for The New York Times

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“If the diet in our prisons be dreaded, the idlers will not direct their steps so often towards these establishments. There are in the cities of Montreal and Quebec a certain number of rogues who quit the prisons to return to them, after an absence of a few days; for these miserable wretches – the greater number of whom are without any home – like to establish their abode at the common jail, where they find clean beds, an agreeable temperature, chiefly in winter time, and a certain abundance of food, comparatively speaking, all of which induce them to consider the prison as palaces.

Before building [a new central prison, for which the inspectors have been making the case for twenty years], it must be borne in mind that it is intended for all classes of criminals; that it will have to shelter the scum of society, wretches, who, half the time, have neither home, nor food, nor clothing, picked up by the police in the filthy streets and in the haunts of vice and infamy in our cities; and that, accustomed as they are to every misery and privation, it would not be right to lodge them in a palace, in a building which would create a desire to remain in it, in a word a dwelling affording more comfort than the dwellings of half the honest people of the country…The inhumanity and barbarity of by gone ages must be carefully avoided; but on the other hand we must not be carried away by a ridiculous and dangerous philanthropy.

If…prompted by an exaggerated sensitiveness,, a mistaken idea of philanthropy, we place these criminals in a better position than they were in before committing their crime, does not the punishment become an illusion, a mockery, I may even say a reward for crime. Let us ask ourselves whether the treatment of criminals in our gaols and penitentiaries is in the interest of society and of the state.”

– “Thirteenth Report of the Inspectors of Prisons, Asylums, &c.,&c. for the Province of Quebec for the Year 1882,” Quebec Sessional Papers, Volume 16, pt. 15, pp. 15-17.

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“Old age rehabilitates criminals better than all programs, congress finds,” Globe and Mail. June 30, 1973. Page 12.

No one can say what will definitely work

By John Beaufoy, Globe and Mail Reporter
REGINA – About the only thing to come out of the Canadian Congress of Criminology and Corrections this week was the conclusion that nothing rehabilitates like old age.

With all the programs and all the experiments being tried across Canada, no one here was able to stand up and say, ‘This is the way to rehabilitate a criminal. This will work.’

Instead, six days of speeches, seminars, and learned papers have produced confusion in the minds of some delegates, adherence to rigid stances on the parts of others, and pleas for unity and co-ordination from almost everyone.

Which is not to say that the 600 people who wound up their conference here yesterday aren’t interested. After all, they’re professional. They make their living by working with society’s rejects – the men and women who’ve gone beyond ‘our’ limits.

But interest and dedication, many of the delegates admit, are not enough. What’s needed, they said, is a whole new approach to corrections.

So, a senator bangs his fist on the lectern and exhorts policy-makers not to build more prisons, while an official of the Canadian Penitentiary Service tells how many new institutions will be built in the next few years.

A professor criticizes the police, judiciary, corrections, parole and other after-care agencies for all operating independently, and the component parts respond that all they’re trying to do is their individual jobs. And, in fact, that’s what they’re doing.

The police arrest. The judge sentences. The prisons imprison. The parole board and the after-care agencies supervise and do what they can to bring the ex-offender back into the community. But it just doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the offender.

And 80 per cent of those sentenced to federal institutions – serving terms of two years or more – have been in trouble before. Prison is just the end of a long winding road through juvenile court, training schools, probation and provincial jails.

‘They’ve been through the meatgrinder,’ says Paul Fuguy, Commissioner of Penitentiaries.

And, figures show, more Canadians are going through that meatgrinder every day and ending up in jail. The federal prison population has risen to about 9,000. A year ago it stood at 7,500.

Delegates here addressed themselves to the causes of this increase and its practical outcome – overcrowding in prisons, increased probation and parole case loads, more inmates to supervise with the same amount of staff, and less opportunity to attempt rehabilitation.

Institutional confinement even under the best of conditions is tension-producing, they comment. Crowd more people into the system, and there may be an increase in prison violence, more escapes, more parole violations.

This said, however, the same people contend there’s little they can do except try to cope with the people sent to them by the courts. The sheer volume of day-to-day work precludes their devising any new approaches to crime prevention, police discretion, or community – as opposed to judicial – disposition of offenders.

And, although there are indications that at some local levels that the various components are starting to work together, it’s not moving fast enough, according to John Braithwaite, Deputy Commissioner of Penitentiaries. 

‘We must cease this … warfare,’ he told the delegates. ‘We must strive to work better together.’

Without better communications, collaboration and co-operation between the police, judges, and corrections workers, the criminal justice system cannot become meaningful to the average Canadian, he said.

Yesterday provincial deputy ministers and their federal counterparts responsible for corrections met here to plan the agenda for the fall federal-provincial ministerial meeting on the subject.

The September meeting will be the first of its type since 1968. If that time-lag is startling, consider this: it wasn’t until October 1971 that the Canadian Penitentiary Service hired an information officer to tell its story.

‘The job,’ says Yvan Roy, ‘has proved challenging, but difficult. Spreading the word about prisons isn’t like announcing financial aid.’

His difficulty, like that of most people in the correctional field, seems to have been summed up by Mr. Braitwaite when he quoted King Solomon visiting his harem: ‘I have a vague idea of what is expected of me on this occasion, but I know not where to begin and I have grave doubts that I have either the stamina or the ability to fulfill my task.’

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“«Poker» Racine
rate son coup,” La Presse. June 12, 1980. Page C-14.

RAYMOND GERVAIS

Denis «Poker» Racine, âgé
de 23 ans, considéré comme
l’instigateur d’une prise d’otages
qui avait durée 57 heures à l’Institut
Archambault de Sainte-Anne-des-Piaines
en septembre

dernier et plus récemment l’auteur
d’une spectaculaire évasion,
arme au poing, du palais de
Justice de Montréal, a réussi une
fois de plus à s’illustrer hier
matin, alors qu’il a tenté avec
deux autres détenus, de fausser
compagnie aux gardiens qui les
escortaient jusqu’au palais de
Justice de Saint-Jérôme à bord
d’une camionnette du ministère
de la Justice, sur l’autoroute des
Laurentides.

N’eût été de la vigilance d’un
des trois gardiens qui accompagnaient
les détenus, le coup aurait
pu réussir et Racine se serait
retrouvé au large encore
une fois. 

Selon un porte-parole de la
Sûreté du Québec, un des trois
gardiens a remarqué quelque
chose de louche à l’arrière de la
camionnette où se trouvaient les
trois détenus. Ne prenant aucune
chance, connaissant la feuille de
route de ses passagers, le conducteur
du fourgon cellulaire
immobilisa immédiatement son
véhicule et les trois agents de la
paix se précipitèrent à l’extérieur,
laissant les trois prisonniers
seuls enfermés à l’arrière
de la camionnette. 

Les gardiens ont immédiatement
alerté les agents de la SQ
qui escortaient le fourgon cellulaire,
les policiers ont demandé
de l’aide et quelques minutes
plus tard, plusieurs autos-patrouille
sont arrivées sur les
lieux. Les policiers ont fait descendre
les trois prisonniers et
ont procédé à une fouille minutieuse
des individus. Les agents
ont retrouvé sur un des individus
un bout de tuyau ressemblant au
canon d’un revolver. 

Selon les policiers, c’est en
s’introduisant le bout de tuyau
dans le rectum qu’un des prisonniers
a réussi à soustraire son

arme à la fouille, pourtant minutieuse
des gardiens du centre
carcéral. 

Denis «Poker» Racine était
conduit au palais de Justice de
Saint-Jérôme où débutait, hier
matin, son enquête préliminaire
en rapport avec la prise d’otages
survenue à Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines
en septembre dernier,
tandis que Serge Robin, âgé de
23 ans, subit présentement son
procès pour le meurtre de Luc
Chouinard, survenu le 14 octobre
1977 à l’intérieur du pénitencier
de l’Institut Archambault à Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. 

Robin est également accusé du
meurtre de Michel Jutras, battu
à mort le 8 août 1979. Serge Robin
avait déjà été condamné à la
prison à vie le 24 février 1977
pour le meurtre de Lise Labatie,
une jeune fille de 17 ans, assassinée
au mois de juin 1976 sur les
Plaines d’Abraham à Québec. 

Quant à Pierre Thibault dont
la feuille de route n’est pas aussi
chargée que ses deux comparses,
il devait recevoir hier, sa
sentence après avoir plaidé coupable
à une accusation d’avoir
participé à une prise d’otages.
Au moment de celle-ci, Thibault
purgeait une peine de 11 ans
pour vol qualifié et tentative de
meurtre.

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“Let Us Try Work Camps,” Globe and Mail. May 23, 1951. Editorial.

An outbreak of hoodlumism has again roused the public to a constant problem of city life. In the earlier episodes, three or four years ago, it was felt by many that what was needed to cope with gang misbehavior was more recreational facilities. Greater familiarity with the problem has shown that this is an oversimplified solution. Organized recreation does not touch the worst element, and it sometimes serves merely as an opportunity for disturbance.

These young toughs have a false philosophy of life. Play activities will not have any particular value in dealing with that fact. These youths need something more mature and challenging than facilities for dancing or games. This newspaper has repeatedly suggested that work camps be organized to which they might be sent. The Juvenile Court and magistrate’s courts, distracted parents, and possibly school authorities, ought to be able to commit boys or girls between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one to such camps. There is an immense amount of useful and necessary work to be done in various aspects of conservation.

These camps could be organized in such a way that the social impulses naturally present in all young people would be channelled into constructive paths. Self-government, cultural development, occupational experience and a goal in life would be obvious by-products. We do not believe discipline would be a great problem, as social disapproval would be very effective in keeping down misbehavior is the code and wins approval. That is the basis of the whole problem. In a different atmosphere, with something worthwhile to do any only enough compulsion to get the work done, we believe there would be a rapid and permanent change in the outlook of many of these youths.

These camps are not without precedent. Experiments in the United States and in some other countries, have shown that they will do the job intended. They are, perhaps, a special type of reformatory, but one particularly adapted to Canadian conditions. This is a country where outdoor life is natural and inevitably beneficial. It should be exploited to meet a serious social condition. In time, it is possible that similar camps might well be organized for non-delinquent youth as well, attending on a voluntary basis as part of their education. 

[Newsclipping from Penitentiary Branch file 1-1-98, Volume 1, RG73.]

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“These altered, lowered expectations manifest themselves in the development
of more cost-effective forms of custody and control and in new technologies
to identify and classify risk. Among them are low frills, no-service
custodial centers; various forms of electronic monitoring systems that impose
a form of custody without walls; and new statistical techniques for assessing
risk and predicting dangerousness. These new forms of control are not
anchored in aspirations to rehabilitate, reintegrate, retrain, provide employment,
or the like. They are justified in more blunt terms: variable detention
depending upon risk assessment.

Perhaps the clearest example of the new penology’s method is the theory of
incapacitation, which has become the predominant utilitarian model of punishment. Incapacitation promises to
reduce the effects of crime in society not by altering either offender or social
context, but by rearranging the distribution of offenders in society. If the
prison can do nothing else, incapacitation theory holds, it can detain offenders
for a time and thus delay their resumption of criminal activity. According
to the theory, if such delays are sustained for enough time and for enough
offenders, significant aggregate effects in crime can take place although individual
destinies are only marginally altered.

These aggregate effects can be further intensified, in some accounts, by a
strategy of selective incapacitation. This approach proposes a sentencing
scheme in which lengths of sentence depend not upon the nature of the criminal
offense or upon an assessment of the character of the offender, but upon
risk profiles. Its objectives are to identify high-risk offenders and to maintain
long-term control over them while investing in shorter terms and less intrusive
control over lower risk offenders. 

Selective incapacitation was first formally articulated as a coherent scheme
for punishing in a report by a research and development organization, but it was quickly embraced and self-consciously promoted as a
justification for punishment by a team of scholars from Harvard University,
who were keenly aware that it constituted a paradigm shift in the underlying
rationale for imposing the criminal sanction.

– Malcolm M. Feeley & Jonathan Simon, “The New Penology: Notes on the Emerging Strategy of Corrections and Its Implications.” 30 Criminology 449 (1992), pp. 457-458.

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“The new penology is neither about punishing nor about rehabilitating individuals.
It is about identifying and managing unruly groups. It is concerned
with the rationality not of individual behavior or even community organization,
but of managerial processes. Its goal is not to eliminate crime but to
make it tolerable through systemic coordination. 

One measure of the shift away from trying to normalize offenders and
toward trying to manage them is seen in the declining significance of recidivism.
Under the old penology, recidivism was a nearly universal criterion for
assessing successor failure of penal programs. Under the new penology,
recidivism rates continue to be important, but their significance has changed.
The word itself seems to be used less often precisely because it carries a normative
connotation that reintegrating offenders into the community is the
major objective. High rates of parolees being returned to prison once indicated
program failure; now they are offered as evidence of efficiency and effectiveness
of parole as a control apparatus.

It is possible that recidivism is dropping out of the vocabulary as an adjustment
to harsh realities and is a way of avoiding charges of institutional failure.
Nearly half of all prisoners released in eleven of the largest states during
1983 were reconvicted within three years. In
21 of the 48 states with adults on parole supervision in 1988, more than 30%
of those leaving parole were in jail or prison on new criminal or parole-revocation
charges; in 8 of them more than
half of those leaving parole were returned to confinement (including a spectacular
78% in California and 70% in Washington). However, in shifting
to emphasize the virtues of return as an indication of effective control, the
new penology reshapes one’s understanding of the functions of the penal
sanction. By emphasizing correctional programs in terms of aggregate control
and system management rather than individual success and failure, the
new penology lowers one’s expectations about the criminal sanction. These
redefined objectives are reinforced by the new discourses discussed above,

which take deviance as a given, mute aspirations for individual reformation,
and seek to classify, sort, and manage dangerous groups efficiently.

The waning of concern over recidivism reveals fundamental changes in the
very penal processes that recidivism once was used to evaluate. For example,
although parole and probation have long been justified as means of reintegrating
offenders into the community,
increasingly they are being perceived as cost-effective ways of imposing longterm
management on the dangerous. Instead of treating revocation of parole
and probation as a mechanism to short-circuit the supervision process when
the risks to public safety become unacceptable, the system now treats revocation
as a cost-effective way to police and sanction a chronically troublesome
population. In such an operation, recidivism is either irrelevant or, as suggested
above, is stood on its head and transformed into an indicator of success
in a new form of law enforcement.

The importance that recidivism once had in evaluating the performance of
corrections is now being taken up by measures of system functioning.
Heydebrand and Seron have noted a tendency in courts and other
social agencies toward decoupling performance evaluation from external
social objectives. Instead of social norms like the elimination of crime, reintegration
into the community, or public safety, institutions begin to measure
their own outputs as indicators of performance. Thus, courts may look at
docket flow. Similarly, parole agencies may shift evaluations of performance
to, say, the time elapsed between arrests and due process hearings. In much
the same way, many schools have come to focus on standardized test performance
rather than on reading or mathematics, and some have begun to see
teaching itself as the process of teaching students how to take such tests.

Such technocratic rationalization tends to insulate institutions from the
messy, hard-to-control demands of the social world. By limiting their exposure
to indicators that they can control, managers ensure that their problems
will have solutions. No doubt this tendency in the new penology is, in part, a
response to the acceleration of demands for rationality and accountability in
punishment coming from the courts and legislatures during the 1970s. It also reflects the lowered expectations for the penal system
that result from failures to accomplish more ambitious promises of the past.
Yet in the end, the inclination of the system to measure its success against its
own production processes helps lock the system into a mode of operation that

has only an attenuated connection with the social purposes of punishment. In
the long term it becomes more difficult to evaluate an institution critically if
there are no references to substantive social ends.

The new objectives also inevitably permeate through the courts into thinking
about rights. The new penology replaces consideration of fault with predictions
of dangerousness and safety management and, in so doing, modifies
traditional individual-oriented doctrines of criminal procedure. This shift is
illustrated in US. v. Salerno, which upheld the preventive detention provision
in the Bail Reform Act of 1984. Writing the opinion for the Court, then
Associate Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist reasoned that preventive
detention does not trigger the same level of protection as other penal detentions
because it is intended to manage risks rather than punish. While the
distinction may have seemed disingenuous to some, it acknowledges the shift
in objectives we have emphasized and redefines rights accordingly.”

– Malcolm M. Feeley & Jonathan Simon, “The New Penology: Notes on the Emerging Strategy of Corrections and Its Implications.” 30 Criminology 449 (1992), pp. 455-457. 

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