Probation and Human Rights
Human rights are those rights that all people have in virtue of our common humanity. They include liberties and claims, being used in political debate to remind governments both of the limits of their powers over their citizens (liberties) and of their obligations to create circumstances in which people can thrive and prosper (claims). International treaties and conventions have been established to clarify rights, to set standards, and to attempt to make all countries accountable to the international community. Human rights are especially important in criminal justice and punishment, where the coercive powers of the state are so manifest. Punishment may even be defined as a deprivation or suspension of rights. Yet hard questions arise about which rights are forfeit and which should be protected. The rights of serving prisoners are especially vulnerable, but there must also be concern for those subject to community sanctions and measures. At the same time, the rights of other people, in particular actual and potential victims, must also be part of an adequate ethical account. Principled ways must be found of dealing with circumstances where rights are in conflict, although such conflicts may be less common than political debate seems to assume. Some contemporary developments have particular implications for human rights – notably the policy in many countries to make community punishments as “prison-like” as possible in a quest for punitive credibility, the political predominance of risk, and preventive interventions. Such trends must be scrutinized with special care because of their potential not only to deprive offenders of their rights but to trespass on the rights of other members of the community without adequate justification. While debate often centers on offenders’ liberties, their claim-rights must also be affirmed. The discourse of human rights offers a way of framing guiding ethical principles for probation and could constitute a foundation for policy and practice.
This is a book-chapter-length contribution to a prestigious and authoritative international encyclopaedia.
Citation : Canton, R. (2013) Probation and Human Rights. In: Bruinsma, Gerben, and David Weisburd, (eds.) Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Springer, pp. 3963 – 3972
Research Group : Community & Criminal Justice Research
Research Institute : Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice
Peer Reviewed : Yes