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Posts Tagged ‘liberalism in canada’

“The correctionalist-rehabilitative (C-R) period in Canada spanned about a thirty-year period, from the mid-thirties to the mid-sixties. Its official starting-point and subsequent zenith were the Archambault (1938) and Fateaux (1956) royal commission reports, which outlined and then reinforced the new correctional ideal of rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. Archambault catalogued the deficiencies of existing institutions. Fateaux went further in recommending the construction of specialized treatment facilities for different groups of offenders. In the interval between the two royal commissions, rehabilitation emerged as a major objective of corrections in  almost every province.

The emphasis on individual “cure” and  “reform” is noted in Topping’s praise of the “new penology” in  British Columbia in 1954: 

A third proposition concerns the application of science in the cure of crime. The training programme for both staff and inmates has been integrated with the Provincial University and the research programme for drug addicts has been centered in the Medical Faculty of the Provincial University. The Classification Clinic at the Provincial Prison Farm is also grounded in scientific principles, with a psychiatrist in charge and with a psychologist and social workers as full-time staff members . … the most probable direction in which this will move … . is the transfer of the reformable offender out of the artificial setting of the institution into the natural setting of the community at the earliest possible moment.

This bovine correctionalism extends through any number of articles in the early volumes of the Canadian Journal of Corrections in the 1960s – all speaking for or acclaiming implementation of recommendations laid down in the Archambault and Fateaux reports. Virtually all of this writing, much of it authored by professionals in legal, medical, and administrative departments, treats law and state as unproblematic through absence of their mention, is virtually unconscious of ideology, and glosses over class inequalities in sanctimonious terms. The aims of reformism are seldom discussed as a means of providing “rehabilitated” delinquents and criminals as a source of labour for the rapid industrialization of Canadian society, nor is the paramountcy of rehabilitation – in a system that had previously stressed punishment and vengeance-considered in relation to the changing needs of capitalist expansion. In sum, the criminology of this period is complacently humanitarian: individuals and their family milieus are at fault; the social system is infinitely adjustable; political economy is for heretics and those who will not board the train to progress; and institutional expansion is uncritically endorsed, as social control shows signs of being lucrative. 

The Archambault and Fateaux reports also called for a rapid expansion of the criminological enterprise in Canada, each stressing that universities should educate for career work in the correctional field. The same recommendation came negatively from T. Grygier, who found the task of compiling surveys of correctional and criminological work in Canada before 1960 simplified by the fact that almost nothing had been reported. Encouragement from various sources did lead to the establishment of four major criminology centres across Canada between 1960 and 1972. Although these departments, centres, and institutes of criminology initially served to integrate people from various fields,  the discipline eventually consolidated, with most faculties establishing a primary identification with criminology itself rather than with one of the basic disciplines.

Thus the discipline became academically autonomous and institutionally entrenched. Relationships cultivated with various social control agencies guaranteed an infusion of funds. By the late sixties, university-located criminologists had become an important element in the infrastructure of social control. Manifesting any one of several forms of liberal-progressivism (L-P), these criminologists have accommodated their academic/intellectual aspirations to the shifting dictates of Canadian liberal hegemony.”

– Robert S. Ratner, “Inside the Liberal Boot: The Criminological Enterprise in Canada.”  Studies in Political Economy, Vol. 13, 1984. pp. 45-46.

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