Hound Pound Narrative: Sexual Offender Habilitation and the Anthropology of Therapeutic Intervention

Hound Pound Narrative: Sexual Offender Habilitation and the Anthropology of Therapeutic Intervention

Hound Pound Narrative: Sexual Offender Habilitation and the Anthropology of Therapeutic Intervention

Hound Pound Narrative: Sexual Offender Habilitation and the Anthropology of Therapeutic Intervention

Synopsis

This is a detailed ethnographic study of a therapeutic prison unit in Canada for the treatment of sexual offenders. Utilizing extensive interviews and participant-observation over an eighteen month period of field work, the author takes the reader into the depths of what prison inmates commonly refer to as the "hound pound." James Waldram provides a rich and powerful glimpse into the lives and treatment experiences of one of society's most hated groups. He brings together a variety of theoretical perspectives from psychological and medical anthropology, narrative theory, and cognitive science to capture the nature of sexual offender treatment, from the moment inmates arrive at the treatment facility to the day they are relased. This book explores the implications of an outside world that balks at any notion that sexual offenders can somehow be treated and rendered harmless. The author argues that the aggressive and confrontational nature of the prison's treatment approach is counterproductive to the goal of what he calls "habilitation" -- the creation of pro-social and moral individuals rendered safe for our communities.

Excerpt

Despite appearances, prisons are not totally impervious institutions. Each day people can be seen going in and out: guards, treatment and office staff, chaplains, police, delivery personnel, new inmate arrivals, and even inmates discharged from the institution. Nevertheless, what goes on behind those walls is largely unknown, and of little interest, to the public. Prisons are rather unique institutions in that control of both information and people is tightly restricted. Access to the residents of prisons, the inmates, or “offenders” in much contemporary discourse, is legally restricted, of course, but also controlled by fears, often unfounded, that only danger lurks there. the idea that prisons contain complex and fully functioning social worlds eludes many. Chaos and evil reign supreme, it is assumed; this is a Hobbesian realm of nasty and brutish men barely under control, ready to kill or riot at a moment’s notice, always trying to escape and wreak havoc on the public. Those convicted of sexual crimes occupy a special category of evilness as well: they are morally bankrupt monsters that lurk in the shadows waiting to spring on an unsuspecting (typically) female “victim” or— even worse—a child. the orderly, even banal, quotidian passage of tasks and time familiar to those on the outside is not assumed to be characteristic of our prisons.

I first encountered sexual offenders during some research in the early 1990s on the involvement of Aboriginal inmates in Aboriginal traditional treatment or “healing” programs (Waldram 1993, 1994, 1997 . . .

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