One of the saddest things I’ve done is go to the library, to the criminology section. Really, it’s as sad as seeing a group of guys locked up for years. The covers on criminology books are new, undamaged, unread. Politicians make decisions without visiting the library, the supposedly-educated media have never been there, and educators don’t know what restorative justice is. And in today’s world most of this information is available online.

Are the media responsible for negative images in the minds of the public?

Are wardens accountable for recidivism, for half the inmates returning to prison?

Why do ridiculous criminal justice laws pass the legislature? Is it that we citizens do not speak up? Here in Canada the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper, passed Bill C-10 with little opposition.

The slogan for the New Year might be: Take your politician to the library.

  1. Joanne says:

    Yes I do believe that the media is doing a lot of damage but look at the comments on crime-related news stories, It seems to be a vicious circle. Who knows where it may have started, but the media seem to be giving the people more of what they want.

    The more I talk to average citizen about prison, the more I discover most people know very little. Many also do not believe they need to know more. Those who commit criminal offences are out of sight out of mind for most of the public and I think most like it that way. There are just too many competing social problems for prisons to rank high enough in the collective conscience.

    In the meantime, criminologists do research that is essentially ignored and few average citizens really care.

  2. Catana says:

    The media plays a huge part, but I think that secrecy on the part of the penal system, at least here in the US, is an even bigger contributor. Very few non-inmates ever get to see the inside of a prison, and inmates who speak out, whether it’s via books, blog posts, or even personal letters, are often punished. Possibly, the politicians who benefit by a tough-on-crime position are complicit, but most of it probably comes straight from the prison systems’ governing bodies. They have very good reasons to keep the truth about prison conditions away from the public. You just have to read the lies of Jeffrey Beard, head of California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in his repeated attempts to discredit the men taking part in the state’s recent hunger strike to understand what’s going on. That strike was about conditions in maximum security facilities where men spend years in solitary, but similar conditions are epidemic at all levels.

    I’d guess, if I bothered to go to my small local library anymore, that the criminology section is tiny and out of date. How is the average person even supposed to know what’s worth reading, assuming they’re interested?

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