2nd World Congress on Community Corrections
This time last week, I had the honour to provide the closing plenary address to the 2nd World Congress on Community Corrections in Los Angeles. In it, I drew a little on the work of the Action, and included some of the images from our Supervisible project to illustrate it. The talk was an attempt to combine philosophical, sociological and criminological thought to explore (respectively) the purposes, scale and shape of community corrections. You can find an audio recording and the powerpoint presentation here:
On the question of scale, which has been addressed in this blog before, I drew once again on the work of Michelle Phelps. Action members will recall that at our first annual conference we were lucky enough to hear Michelle discuss her work. It was great to see her again in LA and to attend her workshop which again explored the challenges posed by the development of ‘mass probation’. It was also good to see probation administrators and practitioners engaging in a thoughtful and critical discussion of why probation growth is not, in and of itself, an unqualified good.
In another workshop, I was fortunate to present alongside Ioan Durnescu (who discussed early findings from his study of the reentry Romanians who has been imprisoned in Norway) and Reuben Miller (who discussed his work on reentry in Chicago). Again, Action members will remember Reuben’s excellent address to us in Bratislava.
All in all, one of my key impressions of the Congress was of a global community of practitioners that is coming of age. That maturing is evidenced in the enthusiasm for learning from one another; and in the willingness to listen to and engage with some difficult messages from ‘critical friends’ from the academy (like Michelle, Reuben, Ioan and me). That capacity for developing a critical reflexive analysis of community corrections could hardly be more important — if indeed we are entering an era when mass incarceration is set to be restrained, partly by increased reliance on offender supervision in the community.