Beyond Incarceration


A call to replace Canada’s incarceration model, which has proven destructive, discriminatory, expensive, counterproductive, and — most of all — unnecessary.

Imprisonment developed in the Western world as the punishment to suit all offences, from violent assault to victimless drug use. Centuries ago, incarcerating convicts represented progress on society’s part, since it came as a replacement for capital punishment, maiming, and torture.

Our current model — taking away convicts’ freedom and holding them in degrading and unhealthy prison conditions — promotes recidivism and jeopardizes public safety. It is highly discriminatory, with disproportionate numbers of ethnic, indigenous, mentally ill, drug-dependent, poor, and otherwise marginalized people imprisoned. It is also ruinously expensive.

Elsewhere, alternative correctional systems successfully rehabilitate offenders while treating them with dignity and respect. This book lays out the case for a complete overhaul of Canada’s ineffective incarceration model of criminal justice and for a new approach.


How should a society punish? Paula Mallea answers this question in a challenging and eloquent way. Her sweeping critique of imprisonment is disturbing. Her plea for alternatives is compelling. Whatever your view Beyond Incarceration will force you to ask why we so frequently imprison when there are reasonable and justified alternatives to address crime and sanctions.

In Beyond Incarceration, the insightful legal thinker makes a clear and compelling argument that our fundamental approach to justice is counterproductive for a majority of inmates and society as a whole.

Winnipeg Free Press

About the Authors

Paula Mallea

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Paula Mallea photo

Paula Mallea

Paula Mallea practised criminal law for fifteen years in Ontario and Manitoba. While in Kingston, she defended inmates in nine different penitentiaries, spending hundreds of hours at Millhaven’s Special Handling Unit, Kingston Penitentiary, and other institutions, in the process gaining intimate knowledge of prison conditions.