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Stanley Cohen is a little more charitable in his assessment, classifying the official rhetoric of "social-control talk" as "good stories":

These "good stories" stand for or signify what the system likes to think it is doing, justify or rationalize what it has already done and indicate what it would like to be doing (if only given the chance and the resources). This talk also has other functions: to maintain and increase the self confidence, worth and interests of those who work in the system, to protect them from criticism and to suggest that they are doing alright in a difficult world. These stories constitute sociological data as much as the motivational accounts of individuals . . . This is the theoretical double-bind: to take these stories seriously (seldom are they based on total delusion, fantasy or fabrication), but also to explore their connections with the reality they are meant to signify. (at 157)

Cohen's last point -- the need to explore the connection between the talk and the reality -- has been acknowledged by some who work within the Correctional Service of Canada. Pierre Allard, then Director of Chaplaincy, in a section he authored for Our Story, offers these well-phrased words of advice in his endorsement of the Mission:

Having a Mission clearly spelled out has great and many advantages. It also has some dangers. For example, we have committed ourselves to respect the dignity of individuals . . . These are nice words but words are not enough. We need to internalize the attitudes that the words call forth. The challenge is to learn to create the quality relationships that are called for by our nice words . . . we need wisdom to work with offenders, to care for them as unique individuals. We must go beyond the nice words.

The second value enunciated in the Mission, that the offender has the potential to live as a law-abiding citizen, brings with it the dangers of the weight of evil and what evil will do to us. Being involved with prisoners is touching closely the greed, the jealousy, the hatred, the pride, the violence, and all the other ugly faces of evil. Michael Ignatieff, addressing correctional workers, said: "You people are the bureaucrats of good and evil. Even bureaucrats of good and evil burn out; they lose their way; they wonder what they are doing sometimes" . . . Unless we realize the weight of evil and what it does to us, we cannot be honest in saying that we believe that the offender can live as a law-abiding citizen. If we fall into the grips of evil, it is going to lead us to cynicism . . .

The danger of the fourth core value -- the sharing of ideas . . . -- is that, in corrections, a formula for cure without care is useless. As we discover better tools to unveil the darkness in people, we must, at the same time, make commitments to accompany them in these valleys of darkness. What would be the consequences if our tools get so sophisticated that we can, from a distance, tell offenders how ugly they are, what kind of scum they are but this is not accompanied by a similar commitment to help them deal with these dark sides of their lives? . . . As we share our tools, and our knowledge and our new understanding, it has to be not that we can talk better about prisoners but that we can talk better with them. It has to be not that we stand back and know how badly they are going to fall but that we learn to walk with them so they will not fall.

Because our enterprise has to do with influencing human beings, we must regularly create forums for interaction where we can explore together, calmly, peacefully and insightfully, how to combine our efforts, gifts, and resources to accomplish what Colonel Samuel Bedson, builder and first warden of Stoney Mountain Penitentiary, referred to when he said: "there is a tender spot in every prisoners' heart, be he foul as he may. Society, likely enough, has never put its hand upon it. Reach that spot; use every influence, strain every effort to get there, there you will find at least a fragmentary remnant of the delicacy and refinement of innocence . . . " (Pierre Allard, "Reyond the Words," Our Story at 167-71)

These cautionary words sit uneasily with the risk-management language of modern corrections, yet they resonate with the tones of the early history of the penitentiary. That they have an unfamiliar ring in the ears of contemporary correctional administrators reflects an important aspect of modern corrections, which David Garland has identified:

It is a characteristic of bureaucratic organizations that they operate in a passionless, routinized, matter of fact kind of way. No matter in what field of social life they operate, whether in health care or social work or punishment -- bureaucracies strive to act sine ira ac studio (without anger or enthusiasm), performing their tasks with studied neutrality and objectivity. As Weber puts it, such organizations become deliberately "dehumanized" and, to the extent that they approach this ideal, they succeed "in eliminating from official business love, hatred and all . . . irrational and emotional elements." We can see this very clearly if we consider the way in which penal administrators regard the offenders with whom they have to deal . . . Instead of seeking to convey moral outrage, punitive passions, or vengeful settings, these agencies tend to neutralize the effect of the penal process, to do their job in a professional manner, leaving the tones of moral opprobrium to the court and to the public." (at 183-84)

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