Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism by Professor John Pratt and Dr Anna Eriksson

Why do some modern societies punish their offenders differently to others? Why are some more punitive and others more tolerant in their approach to offending and how can these differences be explained? Based on extensive historical analysis and fieldwork in the penal systems of England, Australia, New Zealand on the one hand, and Finland, Norway and Sweden on the other, this book seeks to address these underlying questions.

The book argues that the penal differences that currently exist between these two clusters of societies emanate from their early nineteenth century social arrangements. The Anglophone societies were dominated by exclusionary value systems in contrast to the more inclusionary values of the Nordic. The development of their penal programmes over this two hundred year period, including the much earlier demise of the death penalty in the Nordic countries and significant differences between the respective prison rates and prison conditions of the two clusters, reflects the continuing influence of these values. Indeed, in the early 21st century these differences have become even more pronounced.

John Pratt and Anna Eriksson offer a unique contribution to the growing importance of comparative research in the history and sociology of punishment. This book will be of interest to those studying criminology, sociology, punishment, prison and penal policy as well as professionals working in prisons or in the area of penal policy across the six societies that feature in the book.

About the authors:

John Pratt is Professor of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. From 2009-2012 he was also a Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellow in Social Science and Fellow of the Straus Institute for Advanced Studies of Law and Justice at New York University 2010-11. He has published extensively in the areas of the history and sociology of punishment and comparative penology. In 2009 he was awarded the prestigious Radzinowicz Prize by the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Criminology.

Anna Eriksson is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2009 she was awarded the New Scholar Prize by the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology for best publication, and in 2012 one of only two Australian Research Councils Awards for early career researchers in criminology, funding a three-year study on comparative punishment between Australia and Sweden.

Published 4th December 2012 by Routledge