The contrast in the way modern societies punish offenders and the factors driving their approaches to crime has been investigated by researchers in their new book.
In their book, Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism, authors Dr Anna Eriksson, Monash University, and Professor John Pratt, Victoria Universitiy, draw on their decade-long research into the reasons behind contrasting attitudes to punishment in Anglophone and Nordic societies.
They analyse the development and current practice of the penal systems of England, Australia, New Zealand in contrast with Finland, Norway and Sweden. The authors argue that from the early 19th century onwards, Anglophone societies were dominated by value systems of division, intolerance and exclusion in contrast to high levels of social inclusion promoted by the Nordic.
Dr Eriksson said differences between the two clusters of societies are illustrated in their prison rates – Anglophone countries had some of the highest incarceration rates, and the Nordic countries the lowest, of those countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“In the Nordic countries, there is a belief that prison conditions should recreate the outside world as much as possible,” Dr Eriksson said.
“Norway’s recently opened Halden Prison is a high-security jail where every cell has a television, en suite bathrooms, unbarred windows and designer furniture. Guards are unarmed and prisoners complete questionnaires asking how their prison experience can be improved.”
Dr Eriksson said it would be impossible to think of such a prison in the Anglophone countries, including Australia.
“Here, prison administration has come to be dominated by issues of security and control, in conjunction with overcrowded, deteriorating conditions,” Dr Eriksson said.
“The contrast in punishment could be illustrated well in the aftermath of the mass murder commited by Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo 2011.
“Such an event in Australia would most likely have called for a reintroduction of the death penalty, and wide-ranging punitive legislation to prevent such events in the future. In Norway, this exceptional crime was recognised with the emphasis on reaffirming solidarity, democray and unity.”
Professor Pratt said the reasons punishment is viewed so differently in the two clusters lies in the pattern of social arrangements developed over the last 200 years.
“The Nordic countries have become very socially inclusive and place high value on moderation, restraint and egalitarianism,” Professor Pratt said.
“In contrast, Anglophone societies became much more exclusionary as a result of an emphasis on individual responsibility and the accumulation of wealth and property.”
Professor Pratt said state power in Nordic countries tends to be used protectively and preventatively in the form of welfare, social and educational provisions.
“In the Anglophone countries, despite all the political emphasis on ‘getting the state out of people’s lives’, there have been few qualms about using state power negatively and punitively against those thought to be unwanted or troublesome,” Professor Pratt said.
THE CRIMINOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES 2014
Solitary Confinement and Supermax Prisons: A Necessary Evil or Necessarily Evil? Solitary confinement is one…
Visiting scholars in criminology
The International Visiting Scholar in Criminology program at Monash University provides staff and students with…
Congratulations to Mary Iliadis winner of the 2013 Monash Criminology Postgraduate Award
Monash Criminology is an active supporter of the pursuit of excellence in postgraduate research. In…
The Monash University & Neighbourhood Justice Centre Criminology Research Report Award 2013
Congratulations to two of our 2013 honours cohort, Amy White and Harriette Curtis, who have…
Human Trafficking edited collection published
Marie Segrave’s edited collection, Human Trafficking (Ashgate) has just been published. It is one of…
Abolition Now! Wed 7 August 5:30pm for 6:00pm start, New Council Chambers, Trades Hall.
Monash University’s School of Political and Social Inquiry in conjunction with Flat Out and the…
Debra Parkinson and Claire Zara (Women’s Health Goulburn North East) report on the first Australian research to investigate post-disaster domestic violence.
This new research from Women’s Health Goulburn North East aims to document the experiences and…
The myth of the people smugglers’ ‘business model’
Gabriella SanchezResearch Fellow at the Border Crossing Observatory. “The people smugglers business model is phrase…
Go directly to jail: not always the best move
Asher Flynn and Bree Carlton‘s commentary piece featured in The Age newspaper on 24 June…
Peace at the Border workshop, Prato Monash Centre May 20-21
This workshop convened by Dr Leanne Weber brought together critical border control researchers from Italy,…
Applications open for July internship program at the Border Crossing Observatory
Applications are now open for Research Internships at The Border Crossing Observatory for July 2013. The…
Rethinking needed on unthinkable crime – Monash Prato Italy Conference “Addressing Filicide” 30-31 May 2013
22 May 2013 The unfathomable crime of filicide, the killing of a child by their…