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Racism and Anti-Racism in Probation



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Racism and Anti-Racism in Probation by David Denney
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Racism and Anti-Racism in Probation analyses the complex processes through which black people are differentially treated by the probation service. Focussing on the use of language in probation practice, David Denney shows how subjective judgements made by probation officers can be given a quasi-scientific quality within the criminal justice system and are often used to justify sentencing practice. In particular, the underlying assumptions and perceptions of probation officers in relation to race are crucial in understanding the nature of the service offered to black offenders. Drawing on ethnographic material as well as his own wide experience of probation work, David Denney demonstrates how probation officers exercise power in a subjective manner, through judgements given verbally to the courts and written reports. The process through which these are constructed and transmitted in a form acceptable to sentencers has a fictional quality, with clearly framed linguistic entrances, exits and interventions, all governed by a code of esoteric conventions unknown to the offender. All offenders are to some extent caught up in these processes, but Denney argues that black people are frequently unable or unwilling to be vdescribed and explained within the discourses of probation. He presents compelling evidence to suggest that some forms of probation practice can serve to discriminate against black people. Through the analysis of this evidence and constructive criticism of current government policy, Denney is able to offer positive suggestions for improved probation practice with black offenders. He looks at the implications of recent changes in penal policy on the development of probation work with black people and considers anti-racist training and future practice developments in the light of current government thinking.
Release date NZ
August 27th, 1992
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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