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“Countering catastrophic criminology: Reform, punishment and the modern liberal compromise”

Hutchinson, Steven
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Punishment and Society. 8(4):443-467.

This article argues that accounts that envisage rupture in penality tend to overplay the coherence of ‘modern’ punishment and underplay the inconsistency of current developments. It suggests that this problem stems in large part from a failure to appreciate the ‘braided’ nature of modern liberal punishment, which is always about both punishment and reform. Part of the ‘secret’ to this is found in David Garland’s earlier work in which the ‘welfare sanction’ appears as a compromise between modernist scientific expertise and liberal legalism and individualism. Normative regulation coupled with punishment in this bargain. As a result, even during the heyday of the welfare sanction
and at rehabilitation’s height, punitive and deterrent penalties remained important. Similarly, there is substantial evidence that increasingly widespread approaches such as
restorative justice, therapeutic justice and risk-need models carry a newly revised correctionalism into the present. Rather than conceive recent changes as indicative of a watershed in penal rationality and practice, this article suggests that it is more important to think about the ways in which neo-liberal assaults on the modernist side of this
equation have transformed its character. (author’s abstract)


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