abolitionist stance of prisons Essay

4818 Words Nov 6th, 2013 20 Pages
Catherine Giguère

Term Paper #3

Work submitted to
Professor Justin Piché
In the course Abolitionism and the Criminal Justice System (CRM 4302)

Department de Criminology
University of Ottawa
December 11th 2012
Many individuals believe that the criminal system and its institutions are flawed. These critiques have been brought on by the ineffectiveness of prisons to reform individuals, the ineptness of the system to reduce crime rates, the lack of focus on victims of crimes, as well as the racist, classist and sexist practices existing in these institutions. Therefore, we can ask ourselves if the elimination of the current penal system and the implementation of alternatives would better allow
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Furthermore, abolitionists argue that the prison environment does not favor rehabilitation. Mathiesen explains that “prisons are often overcrowded, run-down, and more or less dangerous places to those who inhabit them. [...] This is the everyday life of the prison – very far from any ‘treatment situation’”. (Mathiesen, 2008, p. 47) In contrast, the Rat Park study conducted as Simon Fraser University in 1994 showed the importance of environment in rehabilitation. In this study, two groups of rats addicted to morphine were placed in separate cages. One group was placed in individual cages with a water dispenser and access to a morphine solution. The other group was placed in the rat park cage, filled with other rats (both sexes), structures, toys, etc. and equal access to the morphine solution. It was stated that the rats in the individual cages consumed 16 times more morphine then the ones in Rat Park. Therefore, ameliorating the rat’s environment helped them lose their dependence. (Beauchesne, 2004, p.122) By the same token, alternative environment to prison would allow better rehabilitation, as isolation and lack of recreational activities tend to augment individual’s vulnerability.

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