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Social Solidarity, Penal Evolution and Probation

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2014 Pages: 892-907
Fergus McNeill; Matt Dawson
Date Published
September 2014
16 pages
In examining the sociology of probation, this article illustrates both the continuing value of Durkheimian analyses of penality and the need to extend such analyses beyond the prison to probation.
Durkheim focused on the cultural aspects of punishment, i.e., punishment as a communal response to behavior that disrupts and harms society's efforts to standardize behaviors that meet the behavioral objectives for social solidarity at a given time. This involves the trust that the behaviors of fellow citizens will serve the common good and the safety of one another as defined by the body politic. Durkheim views punishment not only as an instinctive visceral reaction of revenge against those who dare to violate norms for social solidarity, but also to correct the harmful behavior and restore the offender to meet the standards for living normatively in social solidarity. Probation has historically been a means of holding offenders accountable for breaking the existing norms for social interaction but also of addressing the mental and behavioral features of the offender that led to violations of cultural norms for social solidarity. This requires that probation be attentive to the quality, content, and impact of sanctions in terms of whether it prepares probationers to be contributors to social solidarity as it is defined by the body politic at the time. 66 references