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“En attendant une autre prise d’otages,” La Presse. August 29, 1980. Page 06.

Jean-Guy Dubuc

La prise d’otages du pénitencier
de Saint-Vincent-dePaul
s’est terminée par la capitulation
des mutins. Le suspense
a cessé, le drame n’a pas eu
Ijeu. Il ne faudrait pourtant pas
oublier trop facilement ce qui
s’est passé et s’en laver les
mains.

Il faut se rendre compte qu’une
prise d’otages comme celle
que nous venons de connaître
est un signe de la détérioration
de notre société, de l’échec de
notre système de réhabilitation
et de la pauvreté de nos conditions
de détention. Il faut se rendre
compte qu’il devient urgent
d’apporter des changements
radicaux à notre système pénitentiaire
si nous voulons entretenir
un climat social capable de
nous protéger contre les éléments
qui mettent en péril la paix sociale.

Bien sûr, on peut être tenté de critiquer les autorités pénitentiaires et de leur imputer tout le
blâme. Souvent, les policiers ont
le goût de se révolter contre un
système qui permet aux criminels
de constamment remettre
leur propre vie en danger.

Quand un criminel peut recouvrer
la liberté pour quelques
heures, il est prêt à tout: le
meurtre ne lui fait plus peur.
Certains des détenus engagés
dans la prise d’otages de Laval
avaient déjà participé au meurtre
de policiers. Ils n’ont plus rien à
perdre et ils sont prêts à se rendre
au bout des possibilités
qu’ils s’approprient. On comprend
que tout le monde les
craigne. Mais on ne comprend
pas qu’ils aient pu concocter
leur projet, qu’ils aient été réunis
dans un même lieu, qu’ils
aient pu se retrouver dans un
même atelier et se procurer des
armes. Il est bien évident que les
autorités pénitentiaires auront à
répondre de plusieurs anomalies
qui ont permis cette prise
d’otages qui aurait fort bien pu
se terminer dramatiquement.

Les policiers ont raison de se
plaindre d’un régime de détention
qui ne les protège pas adéquatement
contre des condamnés
qu’ils doivent trop souvent
rattraper au risque de leur vie.
Ils sentent qu’ils doivent combattre
un système en même
temps que des hommes.

Quel système?

Laissons la réponse à M.
Jean-Paul Gilbert qui s’adressait
cette semaine aux chefs policiers
du Canada: «Il ne faut
pas se cacher, disait-il, que nos
prisons fabriquent des monstres.»

M. Gilbert est le responsable
québécois des libérations conditionnelles.
Il est celui à qui on
reproche, parfois, le fait que
certains prisonniers aient obtenu
trop rapidement une liberté
jugée dangereuse; il est aussi
celui à qui d’autres reprochent
de vouloir garder, derrière les
murs, certains prisonniers, de
ceux qui s’appellent «politiques»,
au-delà d’un temps que
l’on croit normal. M. Gilbert
connaît bien le système où il
garde et dont il libère les condamnés.
Et il considère personnellement
que ce système fabrique
des monstres.

C’est pourtant quand ces
«monstres» échappent au système
qu’il devient dangereux de
les trouver en liberté ou en position
de force avec des otages. 

Le problème réside dans la
nature même d’un système qui
tente, avec des erreurs nombreuses,
de protéger la société
contre des détenus qui ont «une
dette à payer» et qui paraît de
plus en plus incapable de remettre
à la société des individus qui
devront un jour, selon nos lois,
presque toujours retourner à
une vie sociale que l’on définit
comme normale. Notre système
s’emploie à punir, ce qui doit faire
partie de la peine. Mais il
n’apprend pas à vivre, ce qui est
pourtant partie essentielle de la
réhabilitation. En fait, tellement
de responsables des services
pénitentiaires refusent de croire
dans le seul mot réhabilitation
qu’il devient évident qu’on ne
sait miser que sur la peine.
Quand, en plus, on le fait maladroitement,
on fabrique des
monstres. 

Bien sûr, il n’existe pas de
solution miracle et il faut s’attendre
à ce qu’une partie des détenus
ne puissent jamais de leur
vie s’insérer normalement dans
la société qu’ils ont trahie. Mais
il y en a d’autres dont la société
a besoin. Ceux-là ont le droit de
vivre normalement un jour. 

Il faut laisser aux spécialistes
le rôle de présenter des solutions
de rechange face à la situation
actuelle. Il faut bien se
dire, également, que le Canada
ne représente pas le pays au
plus sombre tableau au chapitre
de la détention et de la réhabilitation.
Mais après palabres et
congrès, après réflexions savantes
et récriminations nombreuses,
on demeure toujours
au même point, avec des prises
d’otages et des évasions de plus
en plus dangereuses. En dehors
des aberrations de la Ligue des
Droits de l’homme, il doit bien se
trouver, quelque part, des intuitions
positives qui permettraient
à une société en évolution de
refaire sa pensée sur la façon de
survivre malgré tout. 

La solution peut se trouver
dans une plus grande collaboration
des divers groupes concernés,
dans un meilleur échange
avec la population et dans une
nouvelle notion de la détention.
Mais cela ne peut que suivre
une certaine hiérarchie des valeurs,
un amour de la vie et un
respect des personnes qui existent
de moins en moins.

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“The positivist school, with its ‘scientific’ approach, introduced principles of legitimacy no longer based on juridical ethics but on what was claimed to represent scientific evidence. At this point the reaffirmed abnormality of offenders provided justification for suspending the relationship between punishment and crime in order to build a new relationship between the individual and the quest for appropriate ‘treatment.’”

– Christian Debuyst, et al., ed. Histoire des savoirs sur le crime et la peine. Vol. 1, Des savoirs difus à la notion de criminel-né. Montreal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1995. p. 292 

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“This drastic revision of penality’s logic [from punishment to rehabilitation] occurs precisely at the historical moment when the political franchise is being extended to include the mass of the (male) working class within its terms for the very first time…At precisely the same time a whole series of institutions and regulations are put in place which are designed to identify all those legal citizens (or prospective legal citizens) who lack the normative capacity to participate and exercise their new found rights responsibly. Once identified, these deviants are subject to a work of normalization, correction or segregation, which ensures one of two things. Either they become responsible, conforming subjects, whose regularity, political stability and industrious performance deems them capable of entering into institutions of representative democracy; or they are supervised and segregated from the normal social realm in a manner that minimizes (and individualizes) any ‘damage’ they can do.”

– David Garland, Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies. Aldershot: Gower, 1985. p. 249

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“A central feature of the new discourse is the replacement of a moral or
clinical description of the individual with an actuarial language of probabilistic
calculations and statistical distributions applied to populations. Although
social utility analysis or actuarial thinking is commonplace enough in modern
life-it frames policy considerations of all sorts-in recent years this mode of
thinking has gained ascendancy in legal discourse, a system of reasoning that
traditionally has employed the language of morality and been focused on individuals. For instance, this new mode of reasoning is found

increasingly in tort law, where traditional fault and negligence standards which
require a focus on the individual and are based upon notions of individual
responsibility – have given way to strict liability and no-fault. These
new doctrines rest upon actuarial ways of thinking about how to “manage”
accidents and public safety. They employ the language of social utility and
management, not individual responsibility. It is
also found in some branches of antidiscrimination law, wherein the courts are
less interested in intent (i.e., discrimination based on identifying individuals
whose intentions can be examined) than in effects (i.e., aggregate consequences
or patterns that can be assessed against a standard of social utility.

Although crime policy, criminal procedure, and criminal sanctioning have
been influenced by such social utility analysis, there is no body of commentary
on the criminal law that is equivalent to the body of social utility analysis
for tort law doctrine. 9 Nor has strict liability in the criminal law achieved
anything like the acceptance of related no-fault principles in tort law. Perhaps
because the criminal law is so firmly rooted in a focus on the individual,
these developments have come late to criminal law and penology.

Scholars of both European and North American penal strategies have
noted the recent and rising trend of the penal system to target categories and
subpopulations rather than individuals. This reflects, at least in part, the fact that actuarial
forms of representation promote quantification as a way of visualizing
populations.

Crime statistics have been a part of the discourse of the state for over 200
years, but the advance of statistical methods permits the formulation of concepts
and strategies that allow direct relations between penal strategy and the
population. Earlier generations used statistics to map the responses of normatively
defined groups to punishment; today one talks of “high-rate offenders,”
“career criminals,” and other categories defined by the distribution

itself. Rather than simply extending the capacity of the system to rehabilitate
or control crime, actuarial classification has come increasingly to define the
correctional enterprise itself. 

The importance of actuarial language in the system will come as no surprise
to anyone who has spent time observing it. Its significance, however, is
often lost in the more spectacular shift in emphasis from rehabilitation to
crime control. No doubt, a new and more punitive attitude toward the
proper role of punishment has emerged in recent years, and it is manifest in a
shift in the language of statutes, internal procedures, and academic scholarship.
Yet looking across the past several decades, it appears that the pendulum-like
swings of penal attitude moved independently of the actuarial
language that has steadily crept into the discourse. 

The discourse of the new penology is not simply one of greater quantification;
it is also characterized by an emphasis on the systemic and on formal
rationality. While the history of systems theory and operations research has
yet to be written, their progression from business administration to the military
and, in the 1960s, to domestic public policy must be counted as among
the most significant of current intellectual trends. In criminal justice the
great reports of the late 1960s, like The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, helped make the phrase “criminal justice system” a part of
everyday reality for the operatives and students of criminal law and policy. 

Some of the most astute observers identified this change near the outset and
understood that it was distinct from the concurrent rightward shift in penal
thinking. Jacobs (1977) noted the rise at Stateville Penitentiary of what he
called a “managerial” perspective during the mid-1970s. The regime of Warden
Brierton was characterized, according to Jacobs, by a focus on tighter
administrative control through the gathering and distribution of statistical
information about the functioning of the prison. Throughout the 1980s this
perspective grew considerably within the correctional system. Jacobs
presciently noted that the managerial perspective might succeed where traditional
and reform administrations had failed because it was capable of handling
the greatly increased demands for rationality and accountability coming
from the courts and the political system.”

– 

Malcolm M. Feeley & Jonathan Simon, “The New Penology: Notes on the Emerging
Strategy of Corrections and Its Implications.”

30 Criminology 449
(1992), pp. 453-454.   

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argyrocratie:

“The abolition of capitalism will eliminate the conflicts of interest that now serve as
a pretext for the state. Most present-day wars are ultimately based on economic conflicts;
even ostensibly ethnic, religious or ideological antagonisms usually derive much of their
real motivation from economic competition, or from psychological frustrations that are
ultimately linked to political and economic repression. As long as desperate competition
prevails, people can easily be manipulated into reverting to their traditional groupings
and squabbling over cultural differences they wouldn’t bother about under more
comfortable circumstances. War involves far more work, hardship and risk than any form of
constructive activity; people with real opportunities for fulfillment will have more
interesting things to do.

The same is true for crime. Leaving aside victimless “crimes,” the vast
majority of crimes are directly or indirectly related to money and will become meaningless
with the elimination of the commodity system. Communities will then be free to experiment
with various methods for dealing with whatever occasional antisocial acts might still
occur.

There are all sorts of possibilities. The persons involved might argue their cases
before the local community or a “jury” chosen by lot, which would strive for the
most reconciling and rehabilitating solutions. A convicted offender might be
“condemned” to some sort of public service — not to intentionally
unpleasant and demeaning shitwork administered by petty sadists, which simply produces
more anger and resentment, but to meaningful and potentially engaging projects that might
introduce him to healthier interests (ecological restoration, for example). A few
incorrigible psychotics might have to be humanely restrained in one way or another, but
such cases would become increasingly rare. (The present proliferation of
“gratuitous” violence is a predictable reaction to social alienation, a way for
those who are not treated as real persons to at least get the grim satisfaction of being
recognized as real threats.) Ostracism will be a simple and effective deterrent: the thug
who laughs at the threat of harsh punishment, which only confirms his macho prestige, will
be far more deterred if he knows that everyone will give him the cold shoulder. In the
rare case where that proves inadequate, the variety of cultures might make banishment a
workable solution: a violent character who was constantly disturbing a quiet community
might fit in fine in some more rough-and-tumble, Wild West-type region — or face
less gentle retaliation.

Those are just a few of the possibilities. Liberated people will undoubtedly come up
with more creative, effective and humane solutions than any we can presently imagine. I
don’t claim that there will be no problems, only that there will be far fewer
problems than there are now, when people who happen to find themselves at the bottom of an
absurd social order are harshly punished for their crude efforts to escape, while those at
the top loot the planet with impunity.

The barbarity of the present penal system is surpassed only by its stupidity. Draconian
punishments have repeatedly been shown to have no significant effect on the crime rate,
which is directly linked to levels of poverty and unemployment as well as to less
quantifiable but equally obvious factors like racism, the destruction of urban
communities, and the general alienation produced by the commodity-spectacle system. The
threat of years in prison, which might be a powerful deterrent to someone with a
satisfying life, means little to those with no meaningful alternatives. It is hardly very
brilliant to slash already pitifully inadequate social programs in the name of
economizing, while filling prisons with lifers at a cost of close to a million dollars
each; but like so many other irrational social policies, this trend persists because it is
reinforced by powerful vested interests.”


The Joy of Revolution    

Ken
Knabb      

http://www.bopsecrets.org/PS/joyrev.htm

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