Book Reviews (13.1)

Published 15/03/2015
Type Review
Author(s) Jake Phillips, Anne Robinson
Corresponding Authors

Faulkner, David (2014) Hampshire, UK: Waterside Press pp 208 (pbk) £19.95. ISBN 978-1-909976-02-3

This detailed and focused book is an insider’s attempt to make sense of the shifts in policy and decision making, changes between consultation and final result and impacts of different political ideologies that have brought criminal justice to its current position in the UK. It is an account of David Faulkner’s professional work and role underpinned by detailed understanding of changing political positions and by the ideological perspective of the observer. Uniting these three perspectives, personal, political and ideological is an impossible task but David Faulkner navigates the waters with more authority than most observers could. In this volume he complements the analysis given in Faulkner (2006) and Faulkner and Burnett (2011) with a personal, almost autobiographical, account of experience inside Whitehall as a working Civil servant.

While this book contains elements of autobiography Faulkner retains a hold on the crux of the debate raised in previous work: how does and how should the administrative arm of the state relate to the governmental arm? How can a civil service be constructed that has at its heart rigour, ethical practice and humanity and whose principle purpose, in Faulkner’s words, is to ‘speak truth to power’ but which is resourced and managed by the government? This conundrum is particularly clear as Faulkner charts changes like the evolution of ideas about public confidence: originally to reflect certainty that the ‘system was accountable, that what was supposed to happen did happen’ and finally as an argument ‘for convicting more offenders’ (pp90). The argument is pulled together in the final chapter of the book, in which Faulkner allows himself to write more personally. However, a major strength of the book lies in the way in which this fundamental question runs through this account of different roles, tasks and aspects in criminal justice.

The account is detailed and meticulously sourced. Faulkner’s respect for research findings and their place in policy creation is clear: He discusses that issue with caution and insight. To some extent the book is strongest when looking carefully at the way in which the civil service has developed methods of accountability. There is a balance to be struck between being accountable for naming and presenting outcomes and letting those outcomes become the drivers of action rather than reflections of an approach. This organizational challenge is recognized, although it could not be resolved. The book describes the ‘job’ of developing a working managerial civil service in a time when ideas about the state, ideology and practice in government and social mores were all in a state of change. In chapters 5 and 6 and again in chapter 10 Faulkner explicitly explores this with reference to both criminal justice and to the expectations and behaviour of civil servants: A move towards a more punitive approach both to offenders and to professional standards.

Because Faulkner has held different roles, and Home Office responsibilities have changed over time this volume gives insight into some very specific actions, like re-building Holloway Women’s prison. The narrative structure means that the account can end as he moves role. This can lead to a partial story: for instance, responsibility for Northern Ireland came at a particular point in the peace process and therefore does not address many of the complications of that process. The running thread through the narrative account lies in the development and overview of criminal justice in the broadest sense: Not only how to punish but also who to punish and how to support actors in the system. There are particular and detailed accounts of both the prison and probation services: Unusually the points made are supported by reference to non-government actions and discussions. These chapters provide invaluable  background reading for students from first degree to doctorate, linked as they are with an understanding of political intention as well as result.

Faulkner does not flinch from personal ideological and actual opposition to government policies. In the build up to the Criminal Justice Act 1991 he presents the development of practical and conceptual difficulties and regrets the final outcome. This does not mean that he is willing to personalize his account. The autobiographical aspect of this book is constrained to description of actions and reactions, ideology and political difference. While the picture of a life lived according to principles of service and professionalism, with care and diligence for those who come into contact with criminal justice is clear, there is no glimpse given of the frustrations and triumphs, the likes and the dislikes, the human faces of the actors.

To some extent this approach makes this narrative a difficult book to become involved in. It is an invaluable account of the actions of the time, both for the detail given and the resources used but the detail can become dense. It addresses the big questions of the last fifty years, as much about relationships of power as about criminal justice. It will be read and enjoyed by those interested in political ideology as much as by criminologists but it is not a book whose merit will be immediately appreciated by newcomers to the area.

Dr Clare Beckett, Senior Lecturer, Sociology and Criminology, University of Bradford

Faulkner, D. (2006) Crime State and Citizen: A Field Full of Folk. Hampshire, UK: Waterside Press.
Faulkner, D. and Burnett, R. (2011) Where Next for Criminal Justice? Policy Press.

Pete Wallis (2014). Bristol: Policy Press. pp 224 (pbk) £12.99. ISBN 978-144731742-5

‘Understanding Restorative Justice’ is an interesting read for those concerned with this important and expanding field, combining practical insight with a theoretical foundation as to why ‘empathy’ is the essential ingredient for the successful resolution of crime related harm. In this respect the book makes an innovative contribution to the literature.

Although the declared intent is to provide a resource suitable for general readership, the book is unmistakably written from the experienced practitioner’s perspective, and at times appears to focus more on a practitioner-orientated audience. That being said, it does provide a very good grounding in what Restorative Justice (‘RJ’) is all about, highlighting relevant academic and empirical research as well as explaining the realities and practical mechanics of facilitating the RJ process. The easy conversational style, use of topic and sub-headings, cartoon-type illustrations, list of current resources and key texts, certainly provides both a comprehensive and readable introduction to the ‘restorative approach.’ In some respects it is arguable that its simplicity of form and presentation belies the significance of this work.

What makes this an innovative contribution to the field is that Pete Wallis has focused on the interaction between the offender (‘the person responsible’) and the victim (‘the person harmed’) and provides a cogent explanation as to why empathy is ‘the driver’ for the RJ process. Using Simon Baron-Cohen’s recent work on the link between offending and low empathy, Wallis takes the reader on the restorative journey explaining how at the point of the offence a ‘gap’ is created between the parties despite the fact that the harm inextricably links them together. As the author points out, empathy ‘is a notoriously complex topic’ of interest to scholars in a variety of disciplines, and so in introducing the subject, the construct (supported by useful authorities) is defined in the context of restorative practice. More importantly, Wallis explains the need for ‘resonant empathy’: the restorative process is dynamic, where parties are carefully brought closer together on the ‘restorative journey’ to heal the harm, through a greater understanding of the other’s perspective.

Through the following thirteen chapters, the six ‘levels’ of empathy are explored. At the outset the harm creates the ‘gap’. Those who are hurt or are unhappy understandably focus on their suffering and it is difficult to see the perspective of anyone else. This applies as much to the person responsible for the harm as the person harmed, for, as has been suggested by others, there is arguably a link between the causes of crime and unhappiness and such unhappiness causes us to focus ‘on the self’. This is Empathy Level Zero: ‘hurting’, where in many cases the parties do not want to have further contact, often from fear of the consequences. However in doing so, many people are unable to fully resume their former lives as if the harm had never happened. Interestingly Wallis makes the point (which really invites further exploration) that the Criminal Justice System (‘CJS’) often can be seen as reinforcing the gap (or ‘social distance’) between the parties when, for example, the parties are prevented from making contact and at most, limiting the role of the person harmed to the submission of a Victim Personal Statement during the court
process. In this respect Wallis argues the case for ‘parallel justice’ in the CJS to ensure the needs of both ‘the harmer’ and ‘the harmed’ are more effectively addressed.

The point is well made however, of the importance of the CJS in cases where an element of compulsion is necessary to bring the parties together. The two chapters which constitute ‘Empathy Level One: seeing’ notes how the RJ process can be a legal requirement in some circumstances and provides examples of the Family Group Conferencing experience in New Zealand and Northern Ireland. One aspect which could have been further interrogated is whether statutorily or court imposed time frames for RJ conferencing (which appears to structure RJ around CJS imperatives), can undermine the process, bearing in mind it has to be ‘a partnership of the willing’ (p.122). Each party is on a personal journey of healing and the legal framework requires flexibility to accommodate individual needs which is emphasised in the following four chapters that describe ‘Empathy Level Two: voicing’.

As Wallis notes ‘one of the trickiest aspects of successful restorative justice involves getting the timing right’ (p.71) and from this point onwards (with subsequent chapters covering Empathy Levels: Three – ‘hearing’; Four – ‘helping’; and Five – ‘healing’), the author draws on his extensive work as a facilitator, highlighting both the problems likely to be encountered along the journey and providing guidance in getting the parties to close the gap to achieve a healing resolution. Even so, the book is well balanced, explaining why the ‘take-up rate’ of RJ is woefully small and that there will always be cases where the parties can’t or won’t move and situations where a restorative ‘encounter’ should not even be attempted. Essentially ‘Understanding Restorative Justice’ is not only a very important resource for anyone associated with the RJ field, but it should prompt more academic enquiry into the dynamics of the inter-party relationship and raises an important issue for policy makers: how can RJ be ‘institutionalised’ without losing the essentially human, and intangible, element of empathy.

A.R. Parsons, PhD Candidate, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

Hannah Graham and Rob White (2015) Oxon: Routledge. pp 170 (hbk) £85.00 ISBN 978-0-415-63211-9

Innovative Justice provides a welcome addition to the field of criminology and criminal justice. The global reshaping and restructuring of criminal justice systems and agencies has increased acceptance of social entrepreneurship and innovative justice ‘making a positive difference in the lives of offenders and those around them’ (p.1). This timely book presents a number of innovative projects in criminal justice from jurisdictions around the world. The authors take on quite a challenge in doing this, as these innovative projects are subject to (sometimes unpredictable) rapid changes from ‘fiscal insecurity, short-termism in funding and electoral cycles and politics of the jurisdictions and social contexts in which they exist’ (p.17). There are also very challenging methodological issues with research of this magnitude. The authors use an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) approach which is an applied and collaborative method with an action-oriented change focus, which is positive and strengths-based (p.13). The research method itself is somewhat innovative, and the authors succeed in delivering a ground-breaking and inspirational book.

Innovative Justice comprises eight chapters: Chapter one begins with a critical overview of the paradoxes of justice in criminal justice systems around the world, and it outlines the key concepts and theoretical foundations of the book, notably theories of desistance. A discussion of defining innovative justice follows with an overview of the research methods adopted.

The innovations are presented in chapters two to seven through six broad themes: (1) the arts: from prison-based initiatives teaching skilled needlework to inmates in England and Wales to hand-crafted products such as greeting cards and home furnishings in Bolivia; (2) Skills-based initiatives: a number of vocational and educational prison initiatives from the United States and the United Kingdom, that include programmes teaching prisoners entrepreneurial skills or building motorcycles, and workshops in shoe and watch repairs possibly leading to employment post-release; (3) Greening justice: a number of initiatives which ‘provide in-depth insight into the human dimensions associated with learning about, interacting with, and deriving benefit from Nature’ (p.54). Examples include a prison gardening and horticultural initiative in Australia and a project in Papua New Guinea teaching inmates and correctional officers the basics of fish farming; (4) Animals and therapeutic justice: therapeutic benefits of including animals in a variety of criminal justice contexts including prison-based animal programmes in the United States, which deliver therapeutic, rehabilitative and vocational projects with inmates, and a programme in Israel providing dog training classes to prisoners with complex needs; (5) Countering extremism: chapter six focuses on working with terrorist and extremist offenders in Saudi Arabia and reducing hate crimes in Northern Ireland. Although the authors acknowledge they ‘are not subject experts’ (p.93), they provide a good discussion and reflection of the innovations and ideas; (6) Community-based justice: the Yellow Ribbon Project in Singapore raises public awareness and community support for the reintegration of exoffenders from their communities, and an initiative in Australia that trains prisoners to
volunteer as community sports umpires whilst serving prison sentences.

All empirical chapters are similarly structured, sharing common sub-headings. The structure works very well and allows for continuity throughout the book, which increases content accessibility. The empirical chapters outline the ‘Foundational concepts and practices,’ and each initiative is described under the heading ‘Snapshots of innovation’, with a review section, ‘Understanding best practices’ critically appraising the initiatives’ key lessons and learning points. Next, the section ‘Questions and critical reflections’ offers ‘an opportunity to encourage critical thought and reflexive application’ (p.18).

In chapter eight, the authors draw together the key themes, issues and critical reflections of the book, highlighting the challenges and positive contribution of innovation in criminal justice very well. In particular, suggesting core principles for innovation and advocating the use of strengths-based approaches in researching and evaluating such initiatives.

The analysis is heavily focused on prison-based projects and initiatives, and a complimentary review of community-based projects within each themed section would have strengthened the empirical chapters. In addition, a key concern of projects and initiatives working with offenders is the evaluation of their impact. Whilst some of the initiatives appear to have incorporated evaluative processes, this was unclear for many of those presented, and some discussion of evaluation of impact would have been useful. The critical reflection sections assist the reader in understanding the themes of best practice for the initiatives presented, and they provide questions to encourage critical
thought, which adds to the concise and accessible nature of the book.

Overall, the authors set out to ‘promote innovation and improvement in services and systems that work with ex-offenders’ and pursue their passion for ‘what else works’ (p.12). They achieve this in a thoughtful and well-structured book, which will be of valued interest to academics, criminal justice practitioners, students and innovators.

Dr Daniel Marshall, Managing Director, 81 Dots and Visiting Scholar, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

Pamela Ugwudike and Peter Raynor (2013) Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. pp 382 (pbk) £25.99 ISBN 978-1-137-01951-6

The discussion around compliance and its related dynamics is, by the say of the editors Pamela Ugwudike and Peter Raynor, a ‘mammoth task’ (p.4). Compliance is a multidimensional construct with varying characteristics according to the specific relationships and contexts at play (e.g., probation officers and probationers in the community, prison officers and prisoners in prison etc.). The editors must be praised for the great effort which they have undertaken in compiling a book whose contributions are mostly organic, exhaustive and stimulate further discussion. This book includes a variety of themes, from community sentences to probation, from critical investigation to a reconstruction of the history of supervision in England and Wales. The book leads the reader into a full immersion about the topics and issues around compliance. The feeling, at the end of the book, is of a healthy balance between intellectual fulfilment and stimulation, which leads to further curiosities and questions about compliance, in its theoretical and practical applications. The book is a great anthology aimed at “practitioners, students, policy makers and others interested in rehabilitation research, policy and practice” (p.5).

The book, while providing useful insights, shows the limitations of approaching single contributions separately. I appreciate the discussions around the concept of compliance as it is applied in various areas of the criminal justice system and in different countries around the world (Belgium, France, United States, and Australia). The book is best appreciated when read cover to cover, in order to fully understand the complex interrelationships between the themes focused upon in each individual chapter. To do otherwise would give the reader only a partial understanding of this complex topic. Compliance is multi-componential and best understood by adopting a socio-psychological
perspective, together with a historical and cultural one. This approach helps to appreciate how the ‘issue’ of compliance is dealt with in other countries, or, for England and Wales, how it has been dealt with in the past.

The book provides evidence of effective practices which may encourage compliance, and the sheer importance of addressing service users’ needs and difficulties. At the same time the book also shows how the current demands on practitioners can defeat this same aspiration for compliance. The demand for ‘quantitative’ indicators of compliance is one example. This requirement does not always reflect true change or desistance (substantive compliance) but, rather, a form of compliance which is only ‘formal’ (a superficial change which satisfies managerialist ‘tick boxes’ exercises rather than reflecting true rehabilitation and ‘reformation’ of the ex-offenders). This important distinction in forms of compliance (see Bottoms, 2001, and in this book, and more recently McNeill and Robinson, 2012) is well articulated by Ben Crewe in his chapter on prisoners’ compliance. Here he provides an indication of the wider  influences which the socio-political climate, current policies and social environments can actually be counterproductive and stimulate a superficial acceptance of fate – one which is mistakenly interpreted as compliance.

The book represents an important call to reconsider the current practices and policies in offenders’ rehabilitation and supervision. The criminal justice system’s limited understanding of compliance becomes evident where, for example, programme completion, recidivism and its equivalent desistance are assumed as true indicators of compliance. This call for a critical approach is echoed in Gelsthorpe and Robinson’s chapters. The former chapter sets the basis for a theoretical discussion around the need to be careful in discussing compliance, as it is often a blurred concept which imprecisely overlaps with issues linked to programme completion and desistance. The latter chapter
argues that the meaning of compliance has been historically and socially constructed, and must not be taken as a given. Policies to foster compliance have detoured from the key need for ‘substantive compliance’ in favour of ‘formal compliance’. This is particularly true as the range of factors which interfere is quite extended, as shown in Ugwudike’s chapter. External factors, such as child minding needs and/or transportation difficulties, can considerably affect one person’s ability to attend supervisory meetings, with this lack of attendance being solely at the level of formal non-compliance, rather than substantial non-compliance.

For this reason, and also because the working relationship between practitioners and service users is a two-way relationship, the editors support the further investigation of offenders’ ‘responsivity’ (as indicated in the Risk-Need-Responsivity model; see Andrews et al., 2011). This can be obtained by building on offenders’ motivation and by removing potential and actual obstacles to completion. The importance of ‘responsivity’ emerges in the chapters by Gelsthorpe, Bateman, and Sparrow (see chapters 16-18) who discuss the cases of women, youth, and drug misusing service users respectively. The current system must address the specific needs of these ‘minorities’ to favour successful completion of sentences and the breaking of the cycle of re-incarceration.

The book is a wonderful anthology where the various chapters intersect, complete and fulfil each other, and deliver a well-articulated overview of the concept of compliance. The key message of this book is the need to develop policies and interventions which promote ‘substantive’ rather than formal ‘compliance’, through a more critical and holistic approach to rehabilitation. The editors Pamela Ugwudike and Peter Raynor have done a great job in providing a very exhaustive piece of work on this topic. This book is a much needed addition to the literature and the shelves of anybody interested in compliance, rehabilitation and desistance from crime.

Fabio Tartarini, PhD Candidate, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge

Andrews, D. A., Bonta, J. and Wormith, J. S. (2011) The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) Model: Does Adding the Good Lives Model Contribute to Effective Crime Prevention? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38(7): 735–755.
Bottoms, A. E. (2001) ‘Compliance and community penalties’, in A. E. Bottoms, L. Gelsthorpe and S. Rex (Eds.) Community Penalties: Change and Challenges, Cullompton: Willan: 87–116.
McNeill, F. and Robinson, G. (2012) ‘Liquid legitimacy and community sanctions’, in A. Crawford & A. Hucklesby (Eds.) Legitimacy and Compliance in Criminal Justice. Cullompton: Willan: 116–137.
Ward, T. and Maruna, S. (2007) Rehabilitation: Beyond the risk paradigm. Oxford: Routledge.