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Canadian penitentiary statistics and research : a functional analysis Farmer, Colin

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to determine the functions of penitentiary statistics and research for the structure of the Canadian Penitentiary Service. The penitentiary structure is defined as a bureaucracy and the statistics and research program as one of its sub-structures. By studying penitentiary statistics and research some insight is gained into this system operating as a bureaucratic organization. From an historical study of the Penitentiary Service it was found that little research has been done. Furthermore, limited reliance has been placed by penitentiary administrators on statistics and research in decision-making. Major changes in policy resulted from the findings of official enquiries. The major function of existing statistics seems to have been the public accounting of Service operations. With the adoption of inmate rehabilitation as an operating philosophy, the more complex administrative situation which has resulted seems to require increased reliance on a statistics and research program in order to achieve this new goal of the Penitentiary Service. While the need for an expanded statistics and research program in penitentiary administration has been recognized, shortage of funds has necessitated reliance on the Dominion Bureau of Statistics for guidance and implementation of this operation. The involvement of the Bureau has resulted, in the provision of statistics sufficient for public accounting purposes at considerable savings to the Service. However, considering the immediate needs of the Service for increased statistical data and a variety of research studies, the major participation of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics would seem to have a limiting effect on the program from two points of view. Information arising from this study indicates that the ability of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics to produce the required data is insufficient for the optimal operation of the penitentiary statistics and research program. Secondly, the involvement of an outside agency in the program seems to have been interpreted unfavourably by the penitentiary staff, with the result that accuracy of statistical data and internal acceptance of the statistics and research program have been impaired. This research suggests as a general conclusion that it is profitable to study correctional agencies in terms of the theory of complex organizations. More specifically the information obtained indicates that, in order to achieve its present goal of inmate rehabilitation, the Canadian Penitentiary bureaucracy is dependent on the development of an efficient statistics and research program for which there seems to be no functional alternative. Consideration of the administrative arrangements necessary to make this program maximally functional for the penitentiary bureaucracy has led to the conclusion that requirements of efficiency, staff acceptance of this program and therefore ultimate achievement of bureaucratic goals, demand that the Service assume increased control over policy and operation of its program of statistics and research .

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