Wright underlines the appalling state of the prisons and reviews the orthodox reformist case for short-term improvement. Overcrowded and inhumane conditions could be improved by shorter sentences; the abandonment of imprisonment for petty offenders where it is inappropriate or counterproductive like alcoholism, nonpayment of support, and prostitution; and a workable regime for those who must remain imprisoned for the safety of society. He identifies some political and administrative obstacles to change and proposes ways of overcoming them. However, he argues that such piecemeal reform offers no answer to the real problems arising out of a failure to define exactly what prisons are for and what they are expected to achieve. He demonstrates that neither the conservative idea of deterrence through punishment nor the liberal ideal of rehabilitation work in practice. The proposed reform would emphasize concern for the victim and require the offender to make amends for damages. Chapter references and an index are included.
Source: Vanspauwen, K., Robert, L., Aertsen, I., Parmentier, S. (2003), Restorative Justice and Restorative Detention. A selected and annotated bibliography. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Onderzoeksgroep Penologie en Victimologie.