Incarceration as an intervention for individuals who are repeatedly apprehended for drunk driving : a survey of adult males sentenced to the Brandon Correctional Institution because of drinking and driving charges
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Over the past number of years there has been growing public pressure that action be taken to deal with the drunk driver. A major impact of this pressure has been to have the criminal justice system deal with this individual as someone who is engaged in a criminal act and from whom society must be protected. Part of this action has been to introduce mandatory sentencing for those who are repeatedly convicted for drinking and driving. The jail sentence aims to punish the individual for his actions, protect society by making it impossible for him to repeat the crime for a period of time, and in turn, hopefully deter the individual and others from committing similar offences in the future. One result of this action is illustrated by reviewing the numbers of individuals incarcerated for drinking and driving offences here in Manitoba over the past number of years. These numbers include individuals incarcerated for driving with a suspended driving licence, however this group makes up less than ten percent of the total admissions cited. In 1982 there were 761 admissions to provincial institutions for drinking and driving offences; in 1983 there were 1083 admissions; in 1984 there were 1031 admissions; and in 1985 there were 943 admissions. In total this group of offenders accounted for 3791 admissions to the provincial correctional system. The impact of this population is best judged by looking at the total number of sentenced adults admitted to provincial custody. In 1982-83 there were 4152 total admissions in 1983-84 there were 4457 admissions; and in 1984-85 there were 4916 admissions (Statistics Canada and Manitoba Provincial Statistics, 1987). This would suggest that drunk drivers make up almost a quarter of the provincial jail populations at any given time. The interpretation which accompanied the provincial statistics identified increased enforcement of drinking and driving laws as a major contributing factor to growing jail admissions (Manitoba Provincial Statistics, 1987). The existence of this significant population raises some basic questions. Who are the people that are being incarcerated for drinking and driving? What, if any, special needs or characteristics do they possess? What forces interact to bring them into contact with the criminal justice system? And what is the nature of the experience they have while in the care of the correctional system? From the perspective of social work within the correctional system questions have to be asked regarding the impact this intervention has on the client. What program initiatives are undertaken to accommodate the special needs of this client group? And, what impact does these efforts have on the client? Not only does one want to describe the population in question, one also wishes to develop an understanding of the problem from a social work perspective. The basic foundations of social work practice are stated in Pincus and Minahan (1973) under the heading "Purpose of Social Work."
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