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Restorative detention or ‘work on self’? Two accounts of a Belgian prison policy.

Dubois, Christophe
June 4, 2015

Source: (2014) Ethnography. Published online before print June 27, 2014, doi: 10.1177/1466138114538803.

Besides being known for population overcrowding, prison staff strikes, and prisoner suicides or escapes, which are frequently reported by the press, prison might also be a place for rare innovative projects. One such project can be seen in a penitentiary policy initiated in Belgium in 2000 aimed at re-shaping the culture of detention towards a culture of ‘restorative justice’. What can be said of this attempt at introducing the concepts of victim, restoration, responsibilization, sensitizing and awareness within prison walls? The present article proposes an illustrative and interpretive account of this prison policy. Rather than restoring the broken victim-offender relationship, its implementation has something to do with detainees working on their ‘self’. (author’s abstract)


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