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SOC209H5 (200)
Lecture

Introduction - Myth or Reality?


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC209H5
Professor
Philip Goodman

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SOC209
January 7th
Introduction
Myth or Reality?
Canada has a much smaller number of people locked up in prisons than in the US because
Canada’s population is much smaller.
Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976 – evidence, according to many observers, of a
commitment to the concepts of justice and rehabilitation
Canada has been successful in the last decade in its attempts to lower the incarceration rate
among Aboriginal Canadians, such that today there is little in the way of disproportional
representation in Canadian prisons across race, ethnicity and gender.
Canada is considered a world-leader by some in terms of gender-specific and ethnicity-specific
punishment, as well as in terms of rehabilitating (treating) offenders.
Canadian law and social norms insure there could never be a Guantanamo Bay style prison (that
is, indefinite detention without warrant and sometimes without judicial review)
What is the Criminal Justice System?
-Griffiths: “all of the agencies, organizations, and personnel involved in the prevention of
and response to crime and dealing with persons charged with criminal offence, and
persons convicted of crimes” (3)
-what is left out of this definition? Downplayed? Highlighted?
What is Crime?
-narrow legal definition of crime
-the concept of crime is relative
-crime reflects economic, social, cultural, and political realities in society
-processes of criminalization
Crime and Differential Enforcement of the Law
-Reiman: the rich get richer and the poor get prison
-Toronto and Ontario: racial profiling, targeting of black individuals
-disproportional nature of punishment in terms of Aboriginal groups
Isn’t there a Criminal Justice “System”?
-Griffith: no, laments it. talks about obstacles, wants more unity in mandates
owhat might be the dangers or drawbacks in moving toward a unitary system with
a single mandate?
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