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International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy

Before Prison, Instead of Prison, Better Than Prison: Therapeutic Communities as an Abolitionist Real Utopia?


The aim of this paper is to critically engage with the idea that Therapeutic Communities (TCs) can be promoted in England and Wales as a radical alternative to prison for substance users who have broken the law. After grounding the discussion within the normative framework of an ‘abolitionist real utopia’ (Scott 2013), the article explores the historical and theoretical underpinnings of TCs. Existing literature advocating TCs as a radical alternative both before and instead of prison is then reviewed, followed by a critical reflection of the TCs compatibility with the broader values and principles of an abolitionist real utopia. To conclude, the article suggests that, although TCs could be a plausible and historically immanent non-penal real utopia for certain people in certain circumstances, we must not lose focus of wider social inequalities.
Pages:52 to 66
Section: Articles


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Author Biography

Liverpool John Moores University
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Senior Lecturer
Open Access Journal
ISSN 2202-8005