One of my abiding pleasures in recounting past accounts of my probation career is to read writers whose accessible scholarship offer fresh insights on the workings of the criminal justice system.
Since retiring from the probation service, I have remained a seasoned observer of the relentless organisational reforms visited on it from what has often appeared governmental whim.
As a devotee of judicial memoirs, I recently read a refreshingly honest, lively and engaging biography of a maverick pioneer of US drug and problem-solving courts, Judge Jeffrey Tauber.
They say that meeting your heroes often disappoints.
With the powerful momentum for enduring reform in criminal justice systems captured most recently by the Black Lives Matter campaign in mind, I was particularly moved on reading Elliott Currie's timely analysis and policy blueprint for addressing the shocking levels of 'everyday' violence that besets many African American communities in the US.
One of my more recent but infrequent forays into the Canadian correctional literature field was reading a lively and absorbing anthology of real life case histories written by a former probation officer, Doug Heckbert, entitled provocatively, Go ahead and Shoot me!
Often when reading criminological tomes, a phrase or reference will leap out from the pages to evoke a memory of past probation practice.
It was whilst poring over the pages of Dan Werb's unsettling book, 'City of Omens', a troubling narrative of femicide on the US/Mexican borderlands, that I recalled a time in my probation career when my role in the union, Napo entrusted me with arranging guest speakers at branch meetings.