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Helping, holding, hurting: recalling and reforming punishment

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  • Criminal Justice Administration


The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament represents one of the most significant planned reforms of punishment in Scotland for generations. But, as we plan and debate a new penal future, to what extent have we learned the lessons of Scotland's penal history? In this year's Apex Scotland Annual Lecture, Professor Fergus McNeill presented findings from a British Academy funded research study of oral histories of Scottish probation in the 1960s - the forgotten but significant period immediately before the introduction of the Children's Hearings system and the generic social work departments. In offering an analysis of the sometimes powerful and moving stories of people who were subject to probation at that time, he aimed to challenge our preconceptions about how criminal sanctions can help, hold and hurt those who are subject to them, in so doing providing an important and fresh perspective on key aspects of the current reform programme.

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