Looking for a model and finding a mirror
This article analyses the meanings given since the early 2000s to the reference model provided by the Canadian penal system. First, in the 2000s the Canadian prison model’s combination of recognizing prisoners’ rights, risk assessment and correctional classification was seen by French prison reformers as a response to contradictory demands regarding the need to improve prisoners’ conditions and the need to manage a surge in the prison population the result of security policies. Then, after the 2012 change in government, France used the Canadian model again when producing expert knowledge in the evaluation of penal measures, this time in order to promote non-custodial sentences. However, the use of Canada as a reference has been thwarted by the intense politicization of security questions. On this point, Canada is less a faraway model than a country facing very similar tensions in the definition of its penal and prison policies.