We were astounded to discover that the many initiatives described in this compendium have not reduced the overall use of imprisonment in Canada. Despite many good intentions, they too often end up, in the words of Irvin Waller, as "long-term wolves in short-term sheep's clothing". Nearly all European countries have also introduced some of the "alternative sanctions" to a greater or smaller extent, and results there have been similar: these have not, by and large, replaced sentences of unconditional imprisonment, which have themselves increased in length, and there has thus been no declining effect on the demand for prison capacity as seen in relation to the crime level (Council of Europe, 1991). Moreover, the situation is expected to worsen here unless other administrative, legislative and educational policies are also introduced. (Some jurisdictions have begun to do this with greater success than we have had to date, as will be discussed in the What Can Be Done section of this Conclusion)

Correctional Services of Canada Information Management System - Year End Count

Signals of a Worsening Situation

The demand for increased prison capacity in Canada can be expected to multiply partly because the dramatically rising number of youths being criminalized at present will put additional pressure on the adult system; it is well known that punitive imprisonment often increases the risk of recidivism and that "even a short spell in custody is likely to confirm them as criminals" (Council of Europe, 1991). In addition, it is anticipated that changes to legislation and related initiatives will further burden the system, i.e. Young Offenders Act, Task Force on Violent Offenders, Firearms Control, Corrections and Conditional Release Act amendments, Sentencing, and Immigration Act amendments (Government of Canada, 1995). Such government action also reinforces the belief among Canadians that incarceration is the appropriate and effective response to crime.

Why do We Persist in Using Unconditional Imprisonment?

Yet this escalation in the use of imprisonment is not warranted by any of the evidence about its impact on community safety, the overall crime rate or the particular requirements of its use strictly to contain violent behaviour. The majority of crimes are still property crimes. More than half of violent crimes are non-sexual assault and do not involve a weapon or serious physical injury. Canadians tend to significantly over-estimate the extent of crime and particularly violent crime. There has been virtually no change between 1988 and 1993 in the proportion of Canadians who reported being a victim of crime. (Government of Canada, 1995).

It would appear that, as has been said of their use in Europe, the vitality of custodial sanctions is due, among other factors, to the emphasis laid on the symbolic or expressive function of punishment (Council of Europe, 1991). Yet it is a costly symbol indeed when one considers its true effects in practice.


"It is judges who impose sentences... but it stands to reason that judges will modify their approach if we reduce the number of spaces available in prison."

Lysiane Gagnon, La Presse,
April 22, 1995

Research has shown, for example, that money spent on the very ambitious and expensive prison construction program that California embarked on in the 1980s purchased nothing when it came to curbing the rate of violent crime (Ekland-Olsen et al., 1992); in fact, the rate began to go up in 1986 and has continued going up since (Doob, 1995; Guardian Weekly, April 10, 1994). This is consistent with previous findings elsewhere on the effect of incapacitation on offenders convicted of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.


"Many of these individuals must have committed their offences as impulsive responses to the situation confronting them, sometimes under the distortions of alcohol or drugs, sometimes by a transitory loss of control in a condition of fear or anger. No incapacitation policy is going to prevent many crimes committed under these circumstances. It is likely that our cohort is fairly representative of experiences elsewhere, and that a large number of the violent crimes cleared by the police are of this character - first offences committed under stresses and influences inaccessible to the preventive processes of the law."

(Van Dine et al., 1979)

This is by no means to deny that these offenders must still be held accountable, and the safety, justice, reparative and healing issues must be addressed. But the use of the expensive tool of punitive imprisonment cannot be justified by any evidence that it will deter others from such violent crime. Of course, as Doob has pointed out, while they themselves are in prison, they aren't on the street committing crime. "The question, then, is not whether 'one crime would be avoided' by some incapacitation strategy. The questions are 'What is the cost' and 'Would some other strategy for the use of scarce resources be more effective in saving lives?" (Doob, 1995). Sudies have concluded that the current strategy, while having little impact on the overall crime rate, has the additional disadvantage of carrying with it a high degree of inaccuracy: many offenders who would not have offended after release will nevertheless be detained longer, (Roberts, 1995), at a high financial and social price.

Between 1982 and 1993, California spent $14 billion on prison construction; the prison population rose by 500 per cent and the overall crime rate increased by 75 per cent ("Real Answer to Stopping Crime", Guardian Weekly, April 10, 1994). In 1992, a comparison was done with Texas, which had dealt very differently with the pressures on its own prison system in the 1980s; constrained by a state economy in recession, it had opted for less prison construction and more reliance on parole. The only difference found between the two crime rates was some increase in repetitious property offending patterns, but with some indications that this could also be attributed to the heightened unemployment rates that Texas was also experiencing during those same years (Ekland-Olsen, 1992). There is simply no conclusive evidence, based on the best available knowledge, that the use or varying length of incarceration serves as a greater deterrent than do other options, even for property offences (Song, 1993; Ekland-Olsen, 1992; Roberts, 1995; Doob, 1995). As stated earlier, there is some reason to believe the opposite: recidivism rates of offenders sent to prison are higher than those of individuals who receive non-custodial effects (Roberts, 1995) and harsh penalties may in fact increase crime rates (Lilles, 1995).


"Crime rates rise and fall according to laws and dynamics of their own and sanction policies develop and change according to dynamics of their own: these two systems have not very much to do with each other."

Patrik Törnudd, Finland, 1993

So What Happened to Deterrence?

This evidence about deterrence is of course highly contrary to popular public belief and, as such, it deserves considerable public clarification. While deterrence may "work" with some people when there is a certainty of apprehension for parking tickets and a fine, for example, the strict conditions that are required for deterrence to "work" cannot be met in the area of crime. Doob explains this as follows:


"The idea behind deterrence... assumes that people will examine the probability that they will be caught for what they are about to do, and determine that there is a reasonably high likelihood of being caught. It assumes that they know what the likely penalty would be and it assumes that they believe that if they are caught they will receive the penalty. Finally, when one looks to increased penalties to deter people, it assumes that people would be willing to commit the offence and receive the penalties currently being handed out, but they would not commit the offence if the penalty were harsher.

But people are not thinking about being caught.... They may be thinking about how not to be caught, but few people commit offences assuming there is a high likelihood of being apprehended"

(Doob, 1995.)

A further problem is that for many crimes, if offenders were to calculate coldly and rationally what the probable penalty would be, they would realize that they have a very low likelihood of being apprehended, let alone convicted - for robbery, for example, about 10 percent. The research shows that those who are convicted are in fact sentenced much more severely than most Canadians estimate (almost always a prison term, often two to three years in penitentiary). There is no evidence that potential offenders go through a process of deciding that the crime is worth it for the present penalty, but would not be worth the risk if the penalty were four or five years, for instance (Doob, 1995).

Another explanation is given by Mathiesen for the reason punitive imprisonment does not have a "deterrent" or "general prevention" effect on most crime. He points to communications research to suggest that deterrence, if it works at all, probably impacts on those who did not need it to begin with because they already shared values and allegiances with the rest of society's dominant group. But for those on whom imprisonment is most likely to be imposed - often the impoverished and the already marginalized - the attempt to send out a preventive "message" through the punitive element of the sentence is distorted by a number of well documented social, psychological and economic factors, including how the punishment itself is experienced. Some social pressure or threat may make people conform but, beyond a certain point, the severity of the punishment in relation to the context is experienced as an injustice, a rejection, a scapegoating (all the experts say that this point beyond which the message is ineffective is well below the sentences commonly handed out in Canada). Labelling and separating people, we now know, leads to the emergence of counterculture, as opposed to increased conformity to the dominant culture: people who are imprisoned the most tend to come from social groups who know very well that even if they don't break the law they still won't "make it" in our society (Mathiesen, 1990).

Even if there were a little deterrent effect, some serious questions must be asked. Not only are the monetary costs no longer sustainable, but the enormous injustice and social harm done by prisons to a disproportionate number of Blacks and Aboriginals, for example, far outweigh any other consideration at this point, especially when any benefit would be negligible and remains speculative. If Canadians knew the facts, wouldn't they prefer this money to be spent on programs that are essential such as health and education, and, as Galaway found in Alberta and Manitoba, on directing resources towards job training, and community programs rather than prisons? (Galaway,1994)

It is not necessary, of course, to give up on deterring people from committing crime, or on denouncing behaviour that violates members of our society and community standards. Nor is it necessary to give up on protecting ourselves, or on seeking justice and healing when we have been harmed. The point is that imprisonment is rarely an effective tool for these purposes. They can be pursued more successfully with other means, that can be less harmful and usually less expensive.

There are a myriad number of other ways of approaching the kinds of problematic situations that currently get criminalized and often result in imprisonment. And problematic situations can be handled in a wide variety of much more human and civilized ways than exclusively through adversarial courts and punitive incarceration, making room for more responses that are specifically appropriate to unique circumstances and needs in each situation. This compendium has presented a number of examples of this.


"One problem with Canadian corrections at present is that it does not have a clear purpose. While corrections departments purport to rehabilitate and reintegrate, because of budgetary constraints and public pressures, those functions are often neglected and replaced by warehousing. Correctional officials, various segments of society and the public at large have differing views as to the purpose of corrections, as to who should be incarcerated and for how long. Public education is essential in this regard.

Incarceration should be used only as a last resort. Incarceration as a cure-all solution when we could resort to more creative and cost-effective solutions is a terrible waste of human and financial capital...."

Canadian Criminal Justice Association, Congress '95 booklet

Why Haven't These Alternatives Reduced Imprisonment?

The short answer to why these alternatives have not reduced imprisonment is because "prison" is still the norm people associate with "justice".

In addition to this, these "alternatives" do not all provide an experience of "satisfying justice".

Prison, of course, is also often found lacking in this regard. But prison has been allowed to coast along, partly because, until recently, there have been no other options for victims or communities; and partly because many assumptions have gone unquestioned, about the effectiveness of the symbolic value of a prison sentence as an utterly destructive moral condemnation, which carries a quality of doom that has not yet been matched by any "alternative" no matter how hard it has tried. We are now seeing how it is the very strength of the "negative stranglehold" of this sentencing measure that has been society's downfall and will ultimately bring about the demise of punitive imprisonment as a rationally defensible or justifiable response to crime. This should be a warning to us about the orientation we choose to give to other options if we want to avoid repeating a similarly destructive and self-destructive pattern.

Another important factor is the fact that billions of dollars have remained invested in the prison industry and there has been no effort yet to move those resources out of prison maintenance in order to redeploy them in the areas of more positive endeavour. This has created the very counterproductive dynamic of vested interests in keeping all existing prison bed space filled to "cost-effective" capacity: it is better to use what is already being paid for than to spend "additional" money on alternatives while some beds are "wasted".

Criminal policy, it appears, is at a deadlock.

The problem seems to be, as we have cautioned at various points in presenting the different initiatives, that many alternatives have been introduced most extensively to relieve prison overcrowding in places where prison sentences are also extensively applied and, because of this, they have tended to be given a much more punitive character than would be required for their actual effectiveness. All kinds of "intermediate sanctions" contain different formulas of coercion and control in order to give them a more punitive appeal that increases the level of suffering or hardship associated with them by the public, regardless of any content meaningfully related to the nature of the offence, or to the problems or needs of victim, offender or their surrounding communities.

Almost every type of punishment is inevitably linked to imprisonment; the waiving of imprisonment, in part or in full, is made so conditional upon so many factors that breaches for reasons other than a further criminal offence can often result in incarceration anyway. New provisions for "conditional sentencing" in Canada may actually further increase the prison population for these reasons, even though the opposite is intended: the symbolic message of its "hammer" will be tempting to add where there is thought to be little likelihood of it being implemented, resulting in the eventual incarceration of people who would previously have been given a non-custodial sentence.

With conditional sentencing, we will thus have come "full vicious circle": a prison sentence will be the add-on to the alternative, in the same way that alternatives are currently used as add-ons to the prison sentence.

This is the infamous "widening of the net" phenomenon, which is by now well recognized and documented, but not overcome. It creeps insidiously into most, (but not all), of our best initiatives. As Peters and Aertsen have pointed out, most alternative sentences have been unable to separate themselves from the prison sentence. Anyone who is not directly sentenced to imprisonment will at least be put in the prison waiting room.

The current application of alternative sanctions facilitates access to incarceration: they lower the structural threshold of imprisonment.

This will not change unless communities become more attentive, proactive and better resourced and unless governments initiate administrative, legislative and educational policies that shape distinctly new directions, positive messages and community-building values for the work of justice in Canada. What can we learn from other jurisdictions who have also been attempting to reduce their use of incarceration?

Basic Facts about Corrections in Canada, 1994 Edition

What Can Be Done

A review of international initiatives to reduce prison populations indicates that a few countries have introduced new national policies that are meeting with some success, the most notable of which, by far, are Finland and the former West Germany.

Finland has successfully accomplished a deliberate reduction of its prison population, which had reached 250 per 100,000 during the peak years (Canada's is currently 154 per 100,000). Since the mid-1960s, a number of factors have led to a consistent 30-year decrease down to its present level of about 60 per 100,000. According to Matti Joutsen, Director of the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI), "few of the essential factors could be described as a 'program, project or initiative' in the strict sense of the word". The strategy was enhanced by conditions that are more easily facilitated in a smaller jurisdiction, for example a close association between research and policy, and the building of close collaborative relationships between the key persons in policy-making, research and practice. But most importantly, "above all criminal policy has remained non-politicized."

A number of existing practices and programs for young offenders and adults reflect some of the concepts and principles of restorative justice:

  • A Victims Fund has been established to provide resourcing for services for victims of crime.
  • Alternative Measures (diversion) is available for young offenders. As well, a number of projects have begun for adults. Victim-offender mediation is one method to resolve conflict. Two youth projects, one in Shaunavon and another in Regina, are piloting models with expanded community involvement.
  • The courts have employed sentencing circles for a number of Aboriginal offenders.
  • Victims are routinely contacted and consulted in the preparation of pre-sentence and pre-disposition reports.
  • The courts direct restitution to be paid to victims as part of a court order. These orders are monitored to ensure offenders fulfil their obligations to victims.
  • The court has the option of ordering offenders to perform community service or personal service. This provides some reparation to the community as a whole.
  • Family Preservation programming for young offenders is an example of a family-centred service model which aims to promote time-limited, integrated services which maintain and strengthen family relationships, and connect families with other resources in their community.

Saskatchewan Dept. of Justice Policy Paper April, 1996


"However, the fundamental factor could be created in any country: the realization that a high prison population is not a solution, is in fact a problem. The key persons must reach agreement on two tenets (1) prison rarely rehabilitates, rarely deters, and often increases the risk of recidivism, and (2) a strongly punitive and law-and-order approach to complex criminal justice problems in general brutalizes prisoners, prison staff and society at large.

Without broad agreement on this, attempts to reform criminal justice will very likely lead to a twisting of the purpose of new non-custodial sanctions, of new attempts at mediation, of new attempts to shorten sentences, and so on."


The Finnish used a comprehensive strategy of legislative and policy changes decriminalizing certain offences (such as public drunkenness), thereby decreasing the number of fine default prisoners; and de-emphasizing imprisonment, including reductions in penalties for theft, other property offences and drunk driving, lowering the minimum time served before eligibility for parole, and increasing the use of suspended sentences, and the use of community service to replace prison sentences of up to 8 months. They also relaxed the earlier strict conditions related to the use of "conditional" sentences; for adults there is no supervision, only the threat of having to serve the penalty if the offender commits a new offence during the probationary period which can last up to three years.

Finnish officials believe that the decisive factor in accomplishing this goal was the "attitudinal readiness of the civil servants, the judiciary, and the prison authorities to use all available means in order to bring down the number of prisoners".

"Regardless of what happens in the future one important lesson has been learned. It proved possible to significantly reduce the use of imprisonment without repercussions in other parts of the system. The scarcity of other sanctions available and the pressures related to rising crime rates weighed less than the express will to create a more civilized sanction system." (Tornudd, 1993)

The former West Germany has also shown that the prison population can be significantly reduced without any apparent increase in the risk to the public. The largest proportionate reduction in the use of custody has been for young offenders. The most compelling explanation for the decrease is changing behaviour of prosecutors and judges. Fewer charged persons are remanded in custody. Prosecutions decreased as prosecutors acquired broad discretion to dismiss cases and even to impose sanctions on their own. As in Finland, it is believed these changes have been achieved not so much through legislative measures but through close collaboration and cooperation among lawyers, the judiciary and prosecutors.

Many other jurisdictions are recognizing the pressing need to reduce their prison population. Some are taking more radical steps in their use of existing measures. The following are just a few examples of the initiatives that are being taken:

  • introducing administrative sanctions, such as confiscation of drivers' licenses, gun permits or passports instead of jail sentences (Italy); or applying outstanding amounts owed on fines to income tax returns instead of jailing the defaulters (Québec);
  • reducing the restrictions on the seriousness of the offences that are eligible for alternatives to imprisonment (Austria, Scotland, Ireland);
  • discontinuing proceedings or postponing them to allow for other social or health solutions to be put in place (The Netherlands, Portugal, Japan);
  • establishing a system of informal and formal "cautioning" of offenders instead of a court proceeding, to address social and health causes, and sometimes involve the victim (United Kingdom, New Zealand);
  • closing prisons and putting "caps" on the prison sentences that can be handed down (Québec, some American jurisdictions) or insisting that for every jail cell there are an equal number of community measures (Ohio);


Quebec launches prison reforms

by Rhéal Séguin, (Globe and Mail, April 3, 1996)

The Quebec government is proceeding with a major reform of the province's prison system, closing as many as six institutions and calling for fewer jailings of non-violent criminals.

The cost-cutting measures are expected to save $16-million a year for the government. But perhaps more important, Quebec will go against the North American trend toward tougher criminal sentences.

"Adopting a less repressive approach toward crime is not something easy to fulfil. In this regard Quebec is going against the conservative trend sweeping across North America", says a report by the Ministry of Public Security and released yesterday. "We are forced to recognize that the repressive approach adopted in the United States has taken hold in the western provinces. Quebec has turned its back on the repressive model

[end of article]

Others are shifting their understanding of what is needed for justice and therefore introducing new approaches and measures.

  • directing the justice process to take a forward-looking approach offering social alternatives and recognizing the need for "integration" rather than "re-integration" because so many offenders already led such a marginal existence to begin with (France); and recognizing that social services are the cornerstone of the implementation of crime policy (Portugal);
  • giving new social and family-oriented dimensions to existing measures (Belgium, New Zealand, Scotland);
  • giving a more reparative orientation to the justice response, by relating community service orders more meaningfully to the offence (Sweden, France) or encouraging mediation processes (Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Austria); Belgium has structurally reinforced a pro-victim policy by hiring social workers, criminologists and mediators to work right in the prosecutors' offices;
  • developing an "integrated justice service delivery model" to rethink justice in a social policy context (New Brunswick); its aim is to work more collaboratively with other agencies and sectors of society on the broader social policy implications regarding the provision of justice services in four key areas of delivery: pre-emptive services, monitoring services, resolution services, and enforcement services;
  • replacing the retributive justice correctional model with a two-track system for "Risk Management Services" and "Reparative Services" (Vermont). The Reparative Services Track focuses on a "Restorative" theme that provides opportunities for offenders to atone for their behaviour and repair the harm caused to both victims of crime and communities where those crimes are committed. Members of the community negotiate the details and activities of how the offender will make redress to the victim and the community. Professional staff roles are redefined, from being casework supervisors to being community resource specialists, organizers and facilitators;
  • establishing the position of "Restorative Justice Planner" to implement state-wide use of reparative sanctions (Vermont, Minnesota).

It is too early to know the results of many of these initiatives in terms of long-term reduction of the use of imprisonment, or community satisfaction with the experience of "justice"; we think the two will be ultimately linked. But there is clearly sufficient evidence that a country can substantially reduce the level of imprisonment and more effectively manage higher risk offenders if the will is there to do so.

One of the biggest barriers to overcome is the false belief among the public, politicians and even some criminal justice officials that tinkering with penalty levels or other parts of the system will improve community safety in Canada. Accurate information which contradicts this view must be made known, without discounting people's legitimate concerns.

Clearly, members of the Canadian public are not content with sentencing, as they presently know it. But as the research of Doob, Galaway, Mathiesen and others, has pointed out, it is just as clear that they would be more content with individual sentences if they had better information from the judges about how individual sentences were determined and what the nature of the case was. Policy decision-makers collectively may be poorly informed regarding citizen support of criminal justice reforms. Much of the information we give to ordinary members of the public does not allow them to evaluate the nature of crime in our society or the operation of the criminal justice system. At the same time, many views expressed by members of the public on the operation of the criminal justice system are likely to come from various "opinion leaders" (political leaders, criminal justice officials, spokespeople from various groups) (Doob, 1995).


Four jails to be closed

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick plans to close four of its 10 provincial jails over the next three years because locking up people for non-violent crime is not working as a deterrent, says Solicitor-General Jane Barry.

"We have a revolving-door syndrome," she said yesterday as she announced a radical reworking of the jail system. She added that 87 per cent of people in New Brunswick's jails are repeat offenders: "They're not learning anything by being incarcerated." -CP

[end of article]

Globe and Mail, April 11, 1996

Hopefully, more communities themselves will begin to insist on more satisfying justice and better value for their money, forming councils like the Abbotsford Community Sentencing Project in British Columbia, or the Miramichi Community Corrections Council in New Brunswick. The day may not be too far off when, as in the health field where there is a growing demand for "evidence-based treatment", in the criminal justice area we will see a growing community pressure for "evidence-based sentencing", that is the requirement to justify the expense or intrusiveness of sentencing measures meted out with scientific support for their necessity or anticipated benefits.

Criminal justice officials have a particular responsibility to serve the public with accurate information about the impact of the present system, what it can and cannot do in the community's interest. Members of the judiciary are in a particularly good position to use their judgments to raise important questions, and to foster better community awareness of the problems that the community must address.


"... I think we have to get tough as well. But we have to be smart about how we get tough. I have talked to people who are frustrated with the system, and what they are really calling for is a response that deals with offenders more effectively, and a response that gets tough on the causes of crime as well. When people talk about what they want to see, jail is not necessarily the answer."

John Nilson, Saskatchewan Justice Minister

  • Judges can insist on getting better information before sentencing, they can request that some kind of good healing process of communication take place to gather it; they can ask to consult with the community in this way, or ask that someone consult the community on their behalf and have the community bring some recommendations before them.
  • They can speak out in their judgments about positive purposes and healing needs related to their cases, and about deficiencies in local community resources or opportunities to help address these deficiencies.
  • They can draw the attention of the community to certain economic or social problems related to the situations they have to rule on; they can tell it how their observations lead them to believe it needs to make more resources available for certain interventions.
  • They can use the opportunity of their judgments to extricate from the label "punishment" some of the positive benefits people are seeking when they use that word and include in their disposition elements that seek to meet these positive aims without assuming that only punitive imprisonment can do so (such aims as holding offenders to account, denunciation, reparation and support for victims, assistance with fears in the community, a re-integrative opportunity in the shaming, etc.).

As for Governments who wish to reduce their jurisdiction's spending on prisons, it would appear to be important to move on several levels:

  • move money away from prison bed space into community-based alternatives;
  • increase the availability and awareness of resources for alternatives that are effective and satisfying;
  • provide legislative and policy measures that enforce their use as alternatives;
  • encourage individual initiatives by community members, agencies and justice officials to use these alternatives every time possible;
  • be ever-questioning each time jail is a component of a sentence: is it really needed, even as a hammer hanging overhead? Is the purpose for which it is being used really justifiable, or could a better option be found?
  • examine and evaluate the whole variety of different uses and functions which sentences to imprisonment are currently serving in the society (see sidebar); each must be addressed if it is not to insidiously work against an official strategy to reduce prison populations.

As we have seen, however, in seeking and promoting new options, tremendous vigilance will always be required if we are not to repeat past tragedies.

"The modern prison, born just over two centuries ago as an alternative to corporal and capital punishment, contains an important lesson for those of us who advocate social change. The Quakers and others who championed the first modern prisons did so with the best of motives but, in reality, created a monster. This history warns us that no matter how lofty our motives and theories, alternative processes intended as reforms may be co-opted and diverted from their original purposes.

Only a grounding in alternative values - indeed an alternative understanding of justice -can reduce such co-optation.

Change advocates must be aware that their reforms may go astray and should be careful about imposing their visions and values on others."

(Howard Zehr, 1995)

The Many Uses and Functions of Sentences to Imprisonment...

  • the protection of people in the outside community from serious violent behaviour by those in prison, while they remain in prison;
  • the limiting of freedom to protect from less serious behaviour;
  • the punishment of low-risk non-violent property offenders;
  • a "wake-up call" to alert certain minor offenders to the fact that a serious change in direction is required in their lifestyle;
  • a symbolic message (of punishment, denunciation, deterrence) to ease public anxiety about crime, and the more deep-seated fear of "the evil that lurks in the hearts of all humankind", including one's own;
  • a symbolic message of vindication for the victim;
  • a place to provide programs or mental health services where they are still funded, or where it is believed that the "coercive" element will make compliance more likely;
  • a place for some destitute people to secure a roof and "three square meals" a day;
  • a subculture that gives a sense of belonging to some of the marginalized of society;
  • employment of many citizens in a billion-dollar industry...