In this chapter, we explicate the evolution of Canadian corrections, the political, social and judicial realities that have shaped punishment and imprisonment over history. We reveal how such factors continue to leave their mark on the current Canadian federal criminal justice system and its structures of incarceration.
A comprehensive review of accessible literatures detailing the nation’s development of punishment and incarceration is presented. The history of imprisonment is traced up to the current year and the role of penal populism as theorized by Garland (2001) and, later, Pratt (2007) is presented to discern the motivations for the current punitive correctional rhetoric, as well as its impact on conditions of confinement and program implementation in penitentiaries.
Canada’s correctional history is largely shaped by how punishment is defined and how such definitions are influenced by members of society; including victims, perpetrators, politicians and media personalities. The realities of current conditions of confinement have been impacted by social and political pressures that encourage increasingly punitive policies oriented towards ‘tough on crime’ initiatives. Current corrections are characterized by overcrowding, concerns about rehabilitative programming and resource allocation and mental health care.
Recent legislative amendments have solidified a ‘tough on crime’ agenda in Canada, however the process underlying the movement towards the acceptance, even public demand, for such legislative changes remain in need of dissemination; particularly in light of the decades of decreasing crime rates in the country.
Ricciardelli, R., Crichton, H. and Adams, L. (2014), "Stuck: Conditions of Canadian Confinement", Punishment and Incarceration: A Global Perspective (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 95-120. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1521-613620140000019004
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