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The socio-legal dynamics and implications of 'diversion': the case study of the Toronto 'John School' diversion program for prostitution offenders


Fischer, B; Wortley, S; Webster, C; Kirst, M (2002). The socio-legal dynamics and implications of 'diversion': the case study of the Toronto 'John School' diversion program for prostitution offenders. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 2(4):385-410.

Abstract

This article explores the socio-legal dynamics and implications of the `John School' diversion programme for prostitution offenders in Toronto, Canada. The analysis is based on quantitative and qualitative data collected as part of an evaluation study of the programme conducted between 1999 and 2001. The analysis begins by exploring the socio-political forces that have shaped prostitution control in Canada over the last century and ultimately led to the emergence of the `John School' as a reform compromise. The article subsequently investigates the particular role of `victims' discourses within the rationale and practices of the `John School' initiative. It traces the ambiguous nature of the programme's objectives by contrasting its widely promoted `educational' and `constructive' aims with the more punitive qualities that emerge in practice. Drawing from the critical literature on informal justice and diversion, it is evidenced that the programme focuses disproportionately on participants from lower socio-economic classes. Serious questions are also raised with regards to `due process'. Particular attention is given to the requirement by participants to waive basic procedural rights in return for admission in the `John School' programme and the subsequent withdrawal of criminal charges. The degree of `choice' involved in accepting these conditions is evaluated with regard to the specific characteristics of the target population. Policy implications are discussed.

This article explores the socio-legal dynamics and implications of the `John School' diversion programme for prostitution offenders in Toronto, Canada. The analysis is based on quantitative and qualitative data collected as part of an evaluation study of the programme conducted between 1999 and 2001. The analysis begins by exploring the socio-political forces that have shaped prostitution control in Canada over the last century and ultimately led to the emergence of the `John School' as a reform compromise. The article subsequently investigates the particular role of `victims' discourses within the rationale and practices of the `John School' initiative. It traces the ambiguous nature of the programme's objectives by contrasting its widely promoted `educational' and `constructive' aims with the more punitive qualities that emerge in practice. Drawing from the critical literature on informal justice and diversion, it is evidenced that the programme focuses disproportionately on participants from lower socio-economic classes. Serious questions are also raised with regards to `due process'. Particular attention is given to the requirement by participants to waive basic procedural rights in return for admission in the `John School' programme and the subsequent withdrawal of criminal charges. The degree of `choice' involved in accepting these conditions is evaluated with regard to the specific characteristics of the target population. Policy implications are discussed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Prostitution;review
Language:German
Date:2002
Deposited On:17 Apr 2014 08:34
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:47
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:1748-8958
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/17488958020020040201
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-94658

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