The entry of ‘reform’ into penal discourse and practice in Europe has been the subject of a number of authoritative historical analyses. In these accounts, the period between the late eighteenth and the mid-nineteenth centuries is identified as a key turning point in thinking about how best to deal with offenders. In the work of both Foucault (1977) and Ignatieff (1978), the period between 1775 and 1850 is highlighted as inaugurating the reform or ‘correction’ of offenders as a legitimate and practicable penal objective. For both writers, the evolution of new ideas about the reform of offenders is understood as part of a qualitative shift in systems of penality which occurred in this period, a shift which is characterised by the displacement of deterrent systems of punishment based on ceremonial displays of sovereign power, in favour of systems of carceral punishment operating according to predictable rules and the tenets of the human sciences as they were understood at the time. In Foucault’s Discipline and Punish this is graphically represented by the displacement of the scaffold by the prison; in Ignatieff’s work the construction of Pentonville prison takes centre stage.
KeywordsReligious Instruction Young Offender Penal System Solitary Confinement Penal Policy
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