Redemption, Rehabilitation and Risk Management
A History of Probation
By George Mair, Lol Burke
Willan – 2011 – 216 pages
Redemption, Rehabilitation and Risk Management provides the most accessible and up-to-date account of the origins and development of the Probation Service in England and Wales.
The book explores and explains the changes that have taken place in the service, the pressures and tensions that have shaped change, and the role played by government, research, NAPO, and key individuals from its origins in the nineteenth century up to the plans for the service outlined by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government.
The probation service is a key agency in dealing with offenders; providing reports for the courts that assist sentencing decisions; supervizing released prisoners in the community and working with the victims of crime. Yet despite dealing with more offenders than the prison service, at lower cost and with reconviction rates that are lower than those associated with prisons, the Probation Service has been ignored, misrepresented, taken for granted and marginalized, and probation staff have been sneered at as ‘do-gooders’. The service as a whole is currently under serious threat as a result of budget cuts, organizational restructuring, changes in training, and increasingly punitive policies. This book details how probation has come to such a pass.
By tracing the evolution of the probation service, Redemption, Rehabilitation and Risk Management not only sheds invaluable light on a much misunderstood criminal justice agency, but offers a unique examination of twentieth century criminal justice policy. It will be essential reading for students and academics in criminal justice and criminology.
'This is an important, timely, and hugely engaging and challenging book. The esteemed authors offer a sophisticated account of the changes within the Probation Service over the past hundred years and critical reflection on what has happened since. Recording the development of a national service and then its dénouement to become what one critic has described a ‘just a small community wing of the Prison Service’ the authors state: ‘ ‘[A]fter more than one hundred years of work with offenders, often with little encouragement or recognition for their efforts, a small island of decency and humanity in the criminal justice system may be disappearing’. The book sheds revealing and critical light on all that has come to pass, from successive attempts to make community penalties operated under the auspices of the Probation Service more punitive (whilst neglecting essential ingredients for effectiveness in terms of Probation Officer – offender relationships) to the push towards the market place (confusing efficiency, economy and efficacy).
Essential reading for students and academics in criminal justice and criminology, of course, but every politician and policy maker should be required to read the book too, and to reflect and act upon its key messages.' – Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
'Redemption, Rehabilitation and Risk Management is a comprehensive, engaging and timely history of the probation service in England and Wales which will be an essential resource for students and academics alike. Drawing on their considerable experience in research and practice contexts, George Mair and Lol Burke have produced an extremely valuable contribution to the literature on probation which charts the fascinating evolution, over more than a century, of a key player in the criminal justice system.' – Dr Gwen Robinson, Reader in Criminal Justice, Sheffield University
'Those currently working for the probation service in England and Wales are likely to be well accustomed, even numb, to a feeling of foreboding about what the future might hold. For anyone wanting to contextualise the current situation, I can think of no better way than reading George Mair and Lol Burke’s excellent history of probation.'
'Throughout each section the history is detailed, the writing accessible, and the tone balanced….Exploring ideas of social control, the authors bring this era vividly to life with well-selected extracts from the documents of the time….'
'Where the beginning of the book is engrossing in the rich detail it provides of probation’s past, the latter sections come alive with debate about the present and prospects for the future.'
-Eleanor Fellowes, London Probation Trust in European Journal of Probation, Sept 2012
'The reader is provided with a rich array of signposts and references to the early works, movements and individuals that shaped the ‘pre-history’ of the service. These provide valuable pathways into a deeper academic engagement with the origins and developments of probation for the serious criminal justice historian and social policy maker.'
-Francis B Cowe, Deputy Director, Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute, in Probation Journal vol 59 no 3
1. Introduction 2. Origins 3. The First Decade 4. Consolidation 5. 'A Major Part of our Penal System'? 6. 1950-1962 – A Golden Age? 7. From Morison to Martinson, 1962-1974 8. Alternatives to Custody 9. The End of the Road? 10. Concluding Reflections
George Mair has been Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University since 1995. Previously, he was Principal Research Officer in the Home Office Research and Planning Unit. He is a leading authority on community penalties and has published widely on this topic. He was a member of the Merseyside Probation Board, 2001-2007.
Lol Burke is Senior Lecturer in Criminal Justice, Liverpool John Moores University. He has worked as a Probation Officer and a Senior Probation Officer. He was involved in the delivery of probation training prior to his appointment at LJMU. He is editor of the Probation Journal.