Getting the Usual Treatment: Censorship and the Marginalization of Convict Criminology

Matthew G. Yeager, Carleton University

In the course of finishing dissertation research, this author encountered a wall of opposition from the Canadian Penitentiary Service and Parole Board. For political reasons, they opposed research on dangerous offenders from the perspective of Convict Criminology, concluding that "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 actually kicked out of all penitentiaries in Ontario, and could not interview any inmates. Complaints were made to members of Parliament, including the then Solicitor General of Canada, as well as the Office of the Correctional Investigator. Even my university tried to sensor the project. This paper seeks to place this episode in the context of the historic marginalization to which critical and Convict Criminology have been subject. It will document how the state controls the criminolgoical 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 literally conspired with the penitentiary service to try to kill this project.

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Updated 05/20/2006