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Getting the usual treatment: research censorship and the dangerous offender

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In the course of finishing dissertation research, this author encountered a wall of opposition from the Canadian penitentiary service and parole board to his proposal. For political reasons they opposed research on dangerous offenders from the perspective of 'convict criminology', concluding: 'This proposal does not reflect CSC [Correctional Service of Canada] priorities and service objectives, and would result in disruption to institutional operations.' For a period of two months, this criminologist was barred from all penitentiaries in Ontario and could not interview any prisoner. Complaints were made to Members of Parliament including the then-Solicitor General of Canada, as well as the Office of the Correctional Investigator; even the University tried to censor the project. This article seeks to place this episode in the context of the historic marginalization to which critical and convict criminology have been subjected. It will document how the state controls the criminological research agenda and what happens when 'voices from below' want to have a say in penological research. Of related interest will be a discussion of how a university research ethics committee, in conjunction with the penitentiary service, tried to stop this project.

Keywords: censorship; convict criminology; dangerous offenders; ideology; research agenda

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology, King's University College, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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