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Counterblast: A Copernican Connection for Community Sentences?

Fergus McNeill urges us to take an alternative view of reoffending in this fascinating piece from the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice.

By comparing the process of offender rehabilitation with the solar system, he asks us to re-think the current treatment-centric world view, where the offender ‘orbits’ around treatment programmes and inside an often hostile community.

McNeill argues that the traditional question, ‘What works?’ in relation to achieving successful desistance may need re-phrasing. Instead, he argues, support services ought to revolve around the individual, but also look outward at the community and ask how the relationships between individuals and communities can be rebuilt.

He says: “…we are all spinning through space, hanging somehow to the surface of a tiny planet, always on a journey of our own, and always dependent on each other to find some way to travel together. That is basically what
community sentences need to be about – not ‘correcting offenders’ so that we can reinsert them into ‘solid society’, but rather supporting service users and communities in working out how to travel together towards better lives.”

You can download McNeill’s article below and perhaps interpret and incorporate into your own practice.


Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

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