Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Hound Pound Narrative

Hound Pound Narrative: Sexual Offender Habilitation and the Anthropology of Therapeutic Intervention

James B. Waldram
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Hound Pound Narrative
    Book Description:

    This is a detailed ethnographic study of a therapeutic prison unit in Canada for the treatment of sexual offenders. Utilizing extensive interviews and participant-observation over an eighteen month period of field work, the author takes the reader into the depths of what prison inmates commonly refer to as the “hound pound.” James Waldram provides a rich and powerful glimpse into the lives and treatment experiences of one of society’s most hated groups. He brings together a variety of theoretical perspectives from psychological and medical anthropology, narrative theory, and cognitive science to capture the nature of sexual offender treatment, from the moment inmates arrive at the treatment facility to the day they are relased. This book explores the implications of an outside world that balks at any notion that sexual offenders can somehow be treated and rendered harmless. The author argues that the aggressive and confrontational nature of the prison’s treatment approach is counterproductive to the goal of what he calls “habilitation” -- the creation of pro-social and moral individuals rendered safe for our communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95247-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. CHAPTER 1 A Man Who Needs No Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Sam is starting to smile. It’s not his “happy” smile. I have seen that smile many times over the past month since he arrived, and particularly as he worked both of the day rooms, his buoyant personality and boundless energy barely tolerated by most (something of which he seemed oblivious). No, this is his defensive smile, his “Now I’m getting pissed” smile. Lips tight together, his smile fighting off a grimace, and his face flushed. His Autobiography, of which he seemed so confident a day earlier when I interviewed him, has not gone as planned. Therapists and inmates alike, surrounding...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Goin’ Down with the “Hounds”
    (pp. 23-46)

    “This ain’t a hospital,” declares Harvey. “Hospitals are cleaner, hospitals have got more nurses and they don’t have guards.” But it is also not a prison in the Hollywood, Alcatraz sense, although that style still exists in North America. You know the picture: rows of barred cells rising in tiers from a central, internal courtyard, allowing for panoptic surveillance by heavily armed guards; guard towers in turn rising above high, brick prison walls overlooking exercise yards, topped by razor wire. It’s not quite like that here. Except for the razor wire.

    The single-story, low-slung compound that is this therapeutic prison...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Disordered Sex
    (pp. 47-75)

    “So what are you in for?”

    I am certain no one really asks that in prison. Another Hollywood figment, I suspect, because it is such a dangerous question, both the asking and the answering. This is not to say there is not an intense interest among inmates to know about each other’s crimes. However, they are much more likely to speak of “doing my own time,” meaning minding one’s business and not other people’s. This keeps one relatively safe. But the nature of inmates’ offenses remains fuel for much speculation, even more so when it comes to sexual crimes. Generally,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Moral Citizenship
    (pp. 76-100)

    Local social worlds, according to Arthur Kleinman (1992, 1997, 1999a, 1999b), are not so much a matter of place as they are of morally imbued relationships and networks, and such worlds of experience create the conditions for the genesis and perpetuation of moral life. An inevitable product of human sociality is the formation of “moral communities,” not so much in the sense Durkheim (1912/1965) defined them, with the focus on religion, but more broadly in the production of values and codes of behavior, alongside notions of transgression and punishment. Yet this approach to the idea of moral living suggests both...

  9. MORAL HABILITATION 1: “Stinkin’ Thinkin’ ”
    (pp. 101-105)

    I use the termmoral habilitationto refer to the process by which individuals are morally remade in the image of certain ideals regarding appropriate social and ethical conduct so that they become “fit” to be among us. Being moral, notes Zigon (2007: 133), is a largely “unreflective state” that is shattered when breaches of the moral order occur, thereby requiring more conscious deliberation and reflection. Moral habilitation in my case, then, is a response to “moral breakdown” indicated by the commission of sexual crimes, a response that requires the inmates to “consciously consider or reason” not only about their...

  10. CHAPTER 5 “It’s Your Life Story”
    (pp. 106-134)

    “It’s your life story,” the therapist tells Sam during his Autobiography.

    “Try to do it in a neat, chronological way.”

    Readers will recall this passage from Sam’s Auto that opened chapter 1 of this book. Narrative, we know, is never “neat” or neatly chronological unless it has been well planned in advance and, in effect, scripted (Rubin 1995; Ochs and Capps 1996). Sam is being set up here. What he thinks he is about to deliver to the group isnotwhat the group, and especially his therapists, are looking for. Sam is thinking narratively, but he is about to...

  11. MORAL HABILITATION 2: “How to Say ‘Fuck Off’ Politely”
    (pp. 135-139)

    “Anger Management” and “Assertiveness,” common components of many kinds of psychotherapeutic modalities, including those with prison inmates generally, are two psychoeducational groups that typically follow “Cognitive Skills” and “Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs.” In Anger Management, the inmates are taught “what anger is, when it becomes a problem, and the importance of managing anger effectively,” using a variety of cognitive and behavioral strategies (Treatment Manual, 35). Assertiveness is seen as a component of anger management, although it is handled in a separate module. Lessons on impulse control are also included. Linkages to the Cognitive Skills and the Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs...

  12. CHAPTER 6 “Feeding Frenzy”
    (pp. 140-162)

    The cold and spartan atmosphere of the interview rooms on the unit may be intentional: three walls of cinderblock, one of glass. This is an interior room, and the constant hum of the ventilation system is distracting. Even though the rooms are small, the acoustics are terrible. “Do you think that some of these guys can fool the staff?’ I ask. David, sensing this problem, leans forward toward my tape recorder. He speaks in hushed tones.

    “Oh yeah,” he replies, nodding and grinning. “You mean the staff can be tricked, they can be fooled by a bullshitter?” I clarify. “Oh...

  13. MORAL HABILITATION 3: “Peter Meter”
    (pp. 163-165)

    “Downright pornography,” as Oren describes it. “But if that’s what staff’s idea is of going through the mud, right, to get what you need and to better yourself, then okay, fine and dandy. Take me to the ‘peter meter.’ ”

    According to information provided to the inmates, “evidence of deviant sexual arousal” leads to an offer to complete a phallometric assessment (Treatment Manual, 39). Such evidence may consist of either self-report or, more likely, offense history. This assessment, they are told, is “voluntary,” and if they refuse “it is simply noted that they did not volunteer for the assessment”; they...

  14. CHAPTER 7 “My Rules for Staying Out of Jail”
    (pp. 166-183)

    Tom’s primary nurse begins to push him about his Relapse Prevention Plan, employing repeated “What will you do if . . .” questions. “If you are out and feel the urge to have sex with kids, what will you do?” Tom looks perplexed, and responds, “I don’t know. I’m not sure.” “See a psychologist?” offers a fellow inmate. “Yeah,” agrees Tom. But what if you can’t get in? “Social services,” Tom says, offering what he assumes is the next logical recourse. What if they can’t help? Tom is blank.

    The two nurses in the room shift direction and now take...

  15. MORAL HABILITATION 4: “The Most Emotionally Draining Thing I Have Ever Done in My Life”
    (pp. 184-196)

    Inmates in the treatment program are required to undergo empathy training as one of their final treatment modules, and in many ways this is where all the moral lessons of the program come home to roost. The experience for them is both emotionally rewarding and challenging. It is in the Empathy module that the “victim” of their crime finally comes to play a central role, after some seven months of treatment. But this “victim” emerges in a disembodied, ephemeral way as a vehicle for empathy training, for of course he or she is not present and does not engage with...

  16. CHAPTER 8 “A Pretty Shitty Place Out There”
    (pp. 197-219)

    Mark starts to chuckle at my question. “The way the public’s going off right now?” he laughs. “I’ll be hounded. I’ll have these, uh, vigilante groups. I’ll have media following me. I’ll have police harassment. In between all of that I’ll be having to try to adjust to the changes that . . . you know, the world has come to since I came in, right?” Mark and I are sitting in an interview room, talking about his future. He will leave the institution in a few days, going back to his home penitentiary to wait further judicial processing.


  17. CHAPTER 9 “It’s All in the Head”
    (pp. 220-238)

    “Everything they teach us is all in the head,” David tells me one day. He has only a few days before he departs for the penitentiary. He has been judged “successful” in his program by his primary nurse and the treatment team, but, as typically happens, he must return to his home institution to await the justice system’s own judgment of the meaning of “success” in his case. Our final interview affords him the opportunity to look back upon his experience on the unit.

    “It’s all things for cognitive thinking,” he explains further. “But what the program doesn’t do is,...

  18. EPILOGUE: Where Are They Now?
    (pp. 239-240)

    As readers come to the end of this ethnography, having met many different characters in the Hound Pound, some will no doubt want me to conclude with information on what has happened to them since my research. I cannot provide that information in specific. Further, I remind that my aim here is not to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the treatment program: among other issues, the sample size is simply too small to allow for any meaningful assessment even where data on recidivism are available. Yet if I provided information on known criminal trajectories of my participants since my research...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 241-244)
  20. Works Cited
    (pp. 245-256)
  21. Index
    (pp. 257-261)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 262-262)