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The ethics of innovation in criminal justice


Graham, H and White, R, The ethics of innovation in criminal justice, The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics, Routledge, J Jacobs and J Jackson (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 267-281. ISBN 9780415708654 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2017 Jonathan Jacobs and Jonathan Jackson

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This chapter presents a bounded analysis of the nature and impact of innovation in criminal justice contexts. Implicit within this reflexive critique are some evocative questions.What constitutes innovation, and who or what is being reformed? What makes advances in criminal justice just? According to whom and to benefit whom? Calls for criminal justice reform and public service innovation continue to saturate public, professional, and academic discourses in many jurisdictions.Yet, while support for change in principle may be widely observed, it is not matched by a commensurate level of consensus regarding the forms and directions changes might take in practice, and why.

In this chapter, we present one possible schema whereby innovation in criminal justice contexts can be analysed in a more systematic fashion. Specifically, after describing 'social innovation' as the central concept of interest here, we start to test its possibilities by interrogating it in terms of what Siedman (2010) calls strategies of amelioration, disruption and transformation, and accommodation. In doing this, we reflect on the extent to which creative and pioneering forms of social innovation may be used not only to benefit the people involved, but also the extent to which they ameliorate, disrupt and transform, or accommodate macro-processes of mass supervision and hyper-incarceration.

Against the backdrop of contemporary criminal justice systems and penal cultures, we use this schema to demonstrate that innovation is not morally or politically neutral. In other words, not all that is 'innovative' is necessarily good or just (Graham and White 2014). Questions about the forms and functions ('what', 'where', and 'how') of innovation in criminal justice should not be divorced from questions about its architects and beneficiaries, including their intentions and ideologies ('who' and 'why') . Attention is drawn to issues of power and politics in considering which 'innovative' justice initiatives are genuinely predicated on a logic of reform and which paradoxically propagate the status quo or mask the sources and effects of the carceral problems they are supposed to resolve.

To preface these discussions, it is necessary to clarify the terrain that lies beyond the scope of our analysis. This chapter does not focus on new developments in electronic monitoring and surveillance technologies, psychological rehabilitation programmes, or the next generation of criminogenic risk assessment tools.Although prominent features of contemporary criminal justice, in many senses these represent the status quo rather than something particularly innovative or creative. Similarly, routine features of offender management processes (e.g., monitoring and compliance) and the labelling of people by risk, diagnosis, or crime type are largely peripheral to the line of inquiry pursued in this chapter. Rather, we wish to highlight social justice and social change as integral to our notion of innovation and the ethics and efficacy of its use in advancing positive penal and social change.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:criminal Justice, ethics of innovation, criminal justice
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Criminology
Research Field:Correctional theory, offender treatment and rehabilitation
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Rehabilitation and correctional services
UTAS Author:White, R (Professor Rob White)
ID Code:111678
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2016-09-28
Last Modified:2017-06-26

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