John Howard's State of Prisons portrays British prisons toward 1780 as places of injustice and arbitrariness, where conditions of detention were anything but humane. Continental prisons hardly appear better, except for some that Howard presents as models. After some years of easy life in the gentry, Howard devoted himself to his Grand Tour of European prisons. A philanthropist of his times, he analyzed prisons from a point of view that remains just as relevant today as it was 200 years ago.
The creation and evolution of juvenile institutions in 19th century Belgium corresponds to two approaches, two eras and two reformers (Edouard Ducpétiaux and Jules LeJeune). The first fifty years are dominated by the idea of guilty children, who should be condemned and incarcerated in penitentiaries to be punished and reformed. Then, the image of children in danger who should be protected against the bad influences of their families becomes dominant. The passage from punishment to protection involves the adoption of social and psychological criteria to classify children along new categories. The scope of the institutions is being widened as their mission becomes centered on all types of children "in danger". As institutions become challenged, family placements become more popular and are intended to compensate for the weaknesses and bad influences of the natural family. The legal withdrawal of parental authority (endorsed by Parliament in 1912) is aimed at controlling families of deprived classes of society. The adoption of the medical model for juvenile delinquents becomes a reality with the opening of psychological observation centres in the Écoles de bienfaisance.
This paper outlines the theoretical perspective we have developed to guide the research we are undertaking on law and colonialism in the Canadian west. Although developed specifically as a tool for defining the theoretical boundaries of our own research, this theoretical perspective may be applied more generally by researchers involved in research on the history of law and social control in colonial societies. The theoretical perspective that we propose is grounded in theoretical and empirical work from a number of different fields, including the history and sociology of social control, the study of legal pluralism, and the study of the process of colonization as it has been approached in recent years by feminist scholars and First Nations historians. The purpose of this paper is to show how this new Amerindian autohistorical perspective can be used to help generate research on the interconnected issues of legal change, colonization, gender, and resistance.
This article introduces some preliminary results from an ongoing research project on the history of the Canadian Criminal Code. These results focus mainly on two important aspects of the first version, promulgated in 1892, of this Code : the structure which has ruled over its construction (and which remains overwhelmingly untouched to this day), and the place of emprisonment in the overall framework of the sentencing provisions of the Code. A short explanation of some of the difficulties surrounding the identification and counting of the incriminatory statements in the Code's text precedes the presentation of these results. By way of conclusion, the author identifies one research avenue to which a detailed analysis of the legal texts in the field of penal law seems to point. It refers to the movement of widening and narrowing of the regulation power of the State, particularly in the fields of (de)criminalization and (de)penalization.
The author brings forth three main periods in the evolution of legislative, statutory and administrative norms regarding the powers of the correctional authorities and the treatment of prisoners in Canadian penitentiaries, from 1834 to present. The first two periods are characterized by an extreme prescriptive profusion typical of utilitarian institutions and by the delegation of normative power to administrative authorities. During the 1980's, the intervention of the courts forces the legislature to progressively integrate the notion of respect for the rule of law and for the principles of procedural equity. The new Law on the correctional system and conditional release in effect since November 1992, is radically distinct from the types of legislations that prevailed for the preceeding fifty years in that it incorporates and ratifies the discourse on prisoners' rights. According to the author, the change of perspective is radical: the utilitarian function of carcéral norms has weakened at the benefit of a function protective of prisoners' rights.
In 1908, the first Canadian juvenile court was established in Winnipeg. The study of the functioning of this court during the period 1930-1959 shows that the judicial process and the sentencing decisions were in relation with two different approaches to delinquency. The first approach is the criminal one. Conceptually, this approach is close to the justice model, borrowed from adult courts which operate with retribution and deterrence. The second approach is the socio-penal approach. This approach is linked to the legal (and social) status of children characterized by the obligations of acceptable adult supervision, fixed place of residence, restrained presence in public places and sexual moralization. It includes types of delinquencies for which adults cannot be incriminated and delinquencies related to contacts with the Court. The sentencing of girls and boys whose files correspond to the criminal model is characterized by the recourse to fining, reprimand, probation and restitution while those whose files match the socio-penal model are punished by correctional detention, probation, release and fine.
In this article the author exposes the situation of prison overcrowding in facilities in the province of Québec. He brings forth the fact that leave of absences have been used to respond to this situation and states that these programs are acceptable means of managing carcéral populations. He bases his statements on the spacial comparison of the rates of leave of absences and the rates of overcrowding between 1989 and 1992, and this by various administrative regions of Québec.