The point of probation: On effectiveness, human rights and the virtues of obliquity
Policy debate assumes the point of probation is to administer community punishment, reduce reoffending and protect the public. Dominant punitive and instrumental understandings of probation’s work have regarded the human rights of offenders as of secondary importance or even as obstacles to attaining these objectives. This paper argues that, on the contrary, policy and practice should be grounded on human rights rather than on direct endeavours for effectiveness. It advances a personal and ethical understanding of probation and, considering probation’s principal tasks of enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection, argues that a respectful professional relationship is indispensable, though threatened by punitive and instrumental approaches. The concept of obliquity – the idea that some of our most important goals are best achieved indirectly – can explain how a personal approach can turn out not only to respect ethical entitlements, but indeed to be more effective in the terms that probation sets for itself.
Citation:Canton, R. (2012) The point of probation: On effectiveness, human rights and the virtues of obliquity. Criminology and Criminal Justice. 13 (5), pp. 577-593
Research Group:Community & Criminal Justice Research