Understanding Prisons and "Conditional Release

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Published on 21 Apr 2011
Monday March 21st 2011
Lecture: Understanding Prisons and Conditional Release
Mini Essay Discussion:
Organization: say why a particular sentence is appropriate, when u do that u have to bring
in the evidence that would suggest something on the other side, but dont feel that u have to
figure out what the appropriate sentence is, u may agree with the judge or u may not but i
want u to bring in the evidence from various parts of the course that would be something to
consider when deciding which sentence to hand down question is what are the
considerations one might want to consider supporting it or not, what were looking for is
your ability to take the various things that have been covered in the course and apply it to
the case obviously that means everything is up for grabs
slide 1
Talk small about operation of prisons, largely focusing on the importance of prisons and
how they operate and introduce u to the idea that they are a big institution that has
characteristics that we should understand
Peculiar way, complex set of rules on conditional release one of the issues is how to deal
with difficult populations like sex offenders
Slide 2:
When youre talking about custodial sentences, the idea that prison sentences are seen as
less favourable turns out not to be true if you choose to get a non custodial sentence there
are risks of the consequences of not complying with restrictions risks of brought back and
punished more than one might other wise be punished
Study where prisoners were asked simple questions and given choices and said which would
you choose 1 interesting thing was that they preferred straight time, the consequences of
living in the community and seen as failing they could be brought back to prison for
additional charges
The equating of prison time to non custodial was that those groups who didnt have
confidence in the system were more likely to say that non-custodial sentence would have to
be a lot more lenient
So the idea of wanting to get out of prison depends on what the alternative is
The guest lecturer told us about the conditions that people have to live under and it makes
them vulnerable to additional controls
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Slide 3:
Whether u can equate a no custodial sentence with a custodial sentence its not easy to
compare in some circumstances
Imagine for theft someone steals something and judge says ok youre going to prison n
someone says okay what about a fine but violent offences and sexual, people have
difficulty doing that because its monetizing violence, youre putting a dollar sign on
someones pain
All penalties dont accomplish the various purposes of imprisonment equally fines dont
have the denunciatory value that prison does, where you want to make a statement about
the unacceptability of the behaviour fining someone just doesnt seem to cut it, which
suggests our own calculations of sentence severity are complex
Slide 4:
Other problem that comes up is that there are unintended effects of incarceration
individual deterrence it seems sentences increase the likelihood of future offending the
other problem is the impacts on other people, whats interesting about the guideline
movement, they address these things and make salient some of the problems
So theres concerns what the impact of sentences of imprisonment on families and in some
of the guideline systems say no you cant take into account this because then youre handing
down different sentences based on who is dependant on them and thats unfair, - this is
NOT what Canada does
What we say, judge takes everything into account and it includes whether the person is
working or taking care of children we avoid the issues by having a loose system of decision
But going to imprisonment does have an effect - found that the consequences of being in
prison and being on parole = it reduce the likelihood of getting a job suggests that there
are consequences and some of them are pretty severe
Slide 5:
The size of the gap reduces with time but the wage gap as time goes on youre getting to be
closer to having the same likelihood of having a job compared to non-convict
Bizarre consequence, convicted felons cannot vote may not be seen these days as not
severe but its interesting in what it says about how society sees people who go to prison
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Interesting because they’re ways in which society stigmatizes people who have been to
Slide 6:
Problems weve had in Canada, part of the problem has to do with small numbers so
appropriate of assessments of women, the idea that the same assessments apply to women
doesnt work things which bring women into prison is different than men
Slide 7:
Want to point out some of the problems of even talking about men and women in prison at
the same time
Could say the increase for women is big but look at the number of men, 4000! Need to know
that you have to look at these things to know what people are talking about; the group of
women increasing is much smaller than the mens even though the percentage is greater
Slide 8:
One of the conflicts in corrections is what are you trying to do when you look at the
literature what u see is the diff kinds of prison systems will focus on different kinds of
Rehabilitation and reintegration are different values and have different concerns than safe
custody right, if youre interested in this you may be making compromises and spending
money, part of the difficulty is where the focus is on recidivism thats where it gets really
complicated, you look at the type of people they are, correctional ppl tlak about static and
dynamic, static (things you cant affect, like what happened to them when they were kids)
but you CAN affect the future these are the dynamic things, programs they take, where
they live etc.
Sentence length and the age distribution of offending, what you know is that as people get
older the likelihood of offending goes up and then drops off, if you give sentence lengths that
are long the likelihood of offending will go down and so that has nothing to do with the
Treatment is under control of prison what they provide they control, what the inmates get
out of it is beyond their hands
Reintegration services, what they can do will affect offending in the future
Community ppl return somewhere, maybe the one they left or one that has more services
or etc.
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