Reconsidering the 'new' penology: Risk management, dangerous and judicial decision-making.
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As a result of the prevailing sense that ‘nothing works’ and the proliferation of risk oriented concerns in the criminal justice system, the current penal era has been characterized as a “new penology.” According to Malcolm Feeley and Jonathan Simon (1992), this period is identified by the priority of risk management, the use of actuarial risk assessments and the growing need for system efficiency. In this study, discourse analysis was performed on judgments from dangerous offender hearings that took place in Ontario in the year 2010 in order to assess the extent to which the concepts of the new penology have infiltrated the process of judicial decision-making in Canada. Consistent with other research on frontline criminal justice practitioners, results indicate that, while judges do increasingly employ a risk-oriented and actuarial approach, they have not abandoned the individualistic considerations and rehabilitative ideals that characterized earlier penal practices. Implications of this finding and directions for future research will be discussed.