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Incarceration within American and Nordic prisons: Comparison of national and international policies


Abstract and Figures

Prison systems throughout the world exist to enforce societal rules, maintain the safety of the general population, provide punitive sentences to offenders, and rehabilitate prisoners. While the goals of global prison systems are relatively common, the United States incarcerates more citizens per capita when compared to other European countries. In addition to the high incarceration rate, the U.S. also maintains a relatively high rate of recidivism, suggesting the U.S. prison system does not effectively rehabilitate American prisoners. Therefore, it is critical to explore the successful components of other European prison systems in order to establish stronger and more effective programs in the U.S.. The present manuscript compares the general prison functioning of the U.S. prison system to Nordic prison systems. Given this comparison, Nordic prison systems appear to do a more efficient job at reducing recidivism, providing educational services, and rehabilitating prisoners. Therefore, U.S. policymakers should consider viable options for alternative services and punitive approaches for American offenders.
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Practitioner’s Voice
School Dropouts: A Global Issue
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Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons: Comparison of
National and International Policies
Katie Ward, Amy J. Longaker, Jessica Williams, Amber Naylor,
Chad A. Rose, and Cynthia G. Simpson ................................................................ 36
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ENGAGE: The International Journal of Research and Practice on Student Engagement
Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons: Comparison
of National and International Policies
Katie Ward, Amy J. Longaker, Jessica Williams, Amber Naylor, Chad A Rose, and
Cynthia G. Simpson
Prison systems throughout the world exist to enforce societal rules, maintain the safety of
the general population, provide punitive sentences to offenders, and rehabilitate prisoners.
While the goals of global prison systems are relatively common, the United States incar-
cerates more citizens per capita when compared to other European countries. In addition
to the high incarceration rate, the U.S. also maintains a relatively high rate of recidivism,
suggesting the U.S. prison system does not effectively rehabilitate American prisoners.
Therefore, it is critical to explore the successful components of other European prison
systems in order to establish stronger and more effective programs in the U.S.. The present
manuscript compares the general prison functioning of the U.S. prison system to Nordic
prison systems. Given this comparison, Nordic prison systems appear to do a more efcient
job at reducing recidivism, providing educational services, and rehabilitating prisoners.
Therefore, U.S. policymakers should consider viable options for alternative services and
punitive approaches for American offenders.
The United States incarcerates more people per capita than most western European
countries and Canada (Mauer, 2003), and many of those imprisoned within the
U.S. will be released and rearrested within three years (Langan & Levin, 2002). While
research has indicated that some prisons and programs are successful at educating and re-
habilitating inmates to reduce recidivism, the majority of prisons exist to protect the public
and punish the offender (French & Gendreau, 2006; Langan & Levin, 2002). Although
protecting the general public should be the primary function of prison systems, increased
attention should be placed on educating and rehabilitating inmates to prevent cyclic nature
of offence, arrest, release, and repeat.
Many prisons in the U.S. are privately operated on behalf of the public by such con-
glomerates as the Corrections Corporations of America and The GEO Group (Gran &
Henry, 2008). While these entities exist to serve the primary function of the prison system,
these companies are for prot, and are compensated for rehabilitation success. In fact, the
more incarcerates who remain in the system, the more lucrative the enterprise becomes.
Consequently, rehabilitation and educational services do not generally factor in to the bot-
tom line of these corporations when compared to construction fees, management salaries,
and employee wages (Gran & Henry, 2008).
In general, the U.S. prison system is often unsuccessful at rehabilitating inmates based
on the high rates of recidivism (Langan & Levin, 2002). Major impediments to rehabili-
tation within the U.S. prison system includes the lack of drug rehabilitation programs,
overall lack of funding for rehabilitation programs, and mandatory sentencing laws for
certain crimes which may force some into prisons who then learn criminal behavior from
ENGAGE: The International Journal of Research and Practice on Student Engagement
Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons
their peers while incarcerated (Mauer, 2011). The purpose of this review is to discuss and
compare the success and methods of prisons in the U.S. and abroad to rehabilitate inmates
while applying general behavioral principles.
Predictors for Escalated Incarceration Rates in the U.S.
Research has demonstrated that the prison system functions, in many ways, as a re-
ceptacle for groups facing systematic challenges such as failed or inadequate educational
opportunities, unemployment, reliance upon public assistance, and involvement in crimi-
nal activity (Austin, Bruce, Carroll, McCall, & Richards, 2001). High school dropouts
represent the majority demographic among those on public assistance and/or incarcerated
(Stanard, 2003). Dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, dependent upon public as-
sistance, earn less in the workforce, and end up in the legal system. (Stanard, 2003). In fact,
early school failure and inadequate schooling (e.g., ineffective teaching methods, prob-
lematic disciplinary practices, lack of educational resources, lack of parental involvement)
serves as a predictor of increased dropout rates (Christie, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2005).
A series of studies have focused on behavioral patterns and disciplinary actions taken
toward students who eventually drop out of school and become entrenched in the legal
system. This body of literature suggests that students who consistently violate school rules
are more likely to be punished, and as these individuals progress in age, the rule violations
often increase in frequency and severity, which results in a steady escalation in the ap-
plied sanctions (Casella, 2001; Christle et al., 2005; Gottfredson, 2001). This escalation in
sanctions can lead to negative labels and exclusions from peer groups, which can create a
self-fullling prophecy and result in a cycle of antisocial behavior that can be difcult to
break (Casella, 2001; Gottfredson, 2001). Therefore, this cycle of punishment, which often
begins at school, could lead to a cycle of illegal activities, arrests, and incarceration.
In addition to educational predictors, the privatization of U.S. prisons may impede the
rehabilitation and education of the nation’s prisoners. Fundamentally, private prisons are
often quite protable for investors, while creating jobs and stimulating local economies.
As such, the political will to nance prisons is not driven by altruistic sentiment to reha-
bilitate (Coyle, 2003). Meanwhile, the U.S. prison population is rising over two million
with expenditures that eclipse $35 billion annually, resulting in both prison expansion and
new prison construction (Coyle, 2003). In addition to the cost associated with prison ex-
pansion, increased expenditures are necessary for the supervision of prisoners and, ideally,
the implementation of rehabilitative programs both within and outside of the prison walls
(Coyle, 2003). While programs within the prison itself are necessary, external rehabilita-
tive programs help reduce recidivism, which requires ongoing expenditures for the super-
vision of released offenders (Coyle, 2003). However, the initial link to reduce recidivism
may be entrenched within the educational system.
38 K. Ward, A. J. Longaker, J. Williams, A. Naylor, C. A. Rose, and C. G. Simpson
Examination of National and International Policies
The U.S. penal system is often portrayed among the American populace as being tough
on crime. To the rest of the western world, the penal system in the United States is viewed
as a broken system, where the U.S. policy of mass incarceration is the epitome of ineffec-
tive practice (Mallory, 2006). While this is a tough critique, the American incarceration rate
is the highest in the world at over 714 per 100,000 U.S. citizens (Walmsley, 2008). This
rate is strikingly higher than that of other southern and western European countries, whose
average incarceration rate is only 95 per 100,000 citizens (Stern, 2002; Walmsley, 2008).
America’s higher rate of incarceration might be acceptable if it resulted in a safer society.
However, it can be argued that the escalated rates of incarceration do not increase societal
safety based on the consistently high rates of overall crimes, violent crimes, and recidivism
rate. Consequently, one could reasonably conclude that the United States’ political agenda
for increasing punishment to decrease crime yields an ineffective result. Therefore, in the
current form, the U.S. prison system inadequately deters crimes and is ineffective at reha-
bilitating offenders. Ironically, the U.S. penal system inadvertently encourages antisocial
behavior (Mallory, 2006).
In contrast, when examining crime rates, the percent of population that is imprisoned,
and the recidivism rate in Nordic countries, the statistics demonstrate that Nordic penal
systems are more successful at deterring future criminal activity when compared to the
U.S. (Walmsley, 2008). The Nordic approach to punishment, the setup of their prisons,
and the public perception of the purpose of the penal system are fundamentally different
than the US. For example, when Norway implemented the prison model used in Denmark,
Finland, and Sweden, the prison population dropped from 200 per 100,000 people in 1950
to 65 per 100,000 people in 2004 (Von Hofer, 2007). Similarly, an experimental Dutch
prison was created to minimize costs and increase inmate success following release, where
inmate rights are of paramount concern and the ultimate goal is to teach offenders that their
choices have consequences, both good and bad (Kenis, Kruyen, Baaijens, & Barneveld,
2010). Though each Nordic country’s (i.e., Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark) laws and
prison policies vary slightly, as a whole the Nordic penal system deviates from that of other
countries with higher rates of incarceration and recidivism, resulting in more favorable
outcomes for the rehabilitation and education of offenders.
Nordic Prison Overview
Conceivably, many Americans conceptualize their global understanding of prison
through their beliefs, experiences, and media portrayal of the national legal system. Conse-
quently, it may be difcult to conceive of a prison system that does not rely almost exclu-
sively on punitive measures, but rather attends to the rights and rehabilitation of inmates. In
contrast to the American Prison System, the framework of the Nordic Prison System serves
to rehabilitate inmates to directly address recidivism (Pratt, 2008). For example, while the
largest Nordic prison houses approximately 350 inmates, the majority of these prisons are
relatively small and house around 100 inmates (Pratt, 2008). The philosophy behind the
limited prison size is to maintain several active prisons in many different parts of the coun-
try, allowing prisoners to reside in closer proximity to their family and home environment
Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons
(Pratt, 2008). Consequently, Nordic prisoners can maintain their roots in their communities
and family bonds, while receiving rehabilitation services within the prison walls.
Nordic prison facilities. Nordic prisons typically fall under one of two categories:
open prisons and closed prisons. These categories are generally stepwise in restrictiveness,
where the typical inmate will rst go to a closed, more restrictive, prison where they will
serve the majority of their sentence (Baer & Ravneberg, 2008; Pratt, 2008). Toward the end
of the prison sentence, the inmate will be transferred to an open prison, that serves as the
foundation for inmate rehabilitation; allowing the offenders more freedoms, more relaxed
surroundings, fewer security measures, and more programs aimed at societal reintegration
(Baer & Ravneberg, 2008; Pratt, 2008). For example, in one Dutch open prison, creative
cost-cutting measures led to increased socializing behavior by housing six inmates in a
spacious cell, that includes typical daily amenities, designed to promote positive social
interactions and independence (Kenis et al., 2010). The traditional Nordic cell, however, is
located on a wing off of the prison’s main corridor, where each wing has a central common
room that contains a television and a small kitchen (Pratt, 2008).
In addition to the cell accommodations, barriers such as fences and walls are elimi-
nated when possible (Pratt, 2008). While closed prisons maintain tight perimeters and se-
curity checks, most open prisons allow offenders to freely roam the grounds, lock their own
doors, and earn in town privileges (Pratt, 2008). Given this level of freedom, many open
prisons utilize technology as a means for accounting for and tracking the location of their
prisoners (Kenis et al., 2010). Consequently, this level of surveillance has produced both
a safer environment and increases in socializing behaviors as offenders seek to maximize
the reinforcement for acceptable behavior (Kenis et al., 2010). Overall, the goal of open
prisons is to shorten the physical and social distance between prison and the outside world;
however, the prisons also employ strict procedures, surveillance, mandatory chores, depri-
vations, and sanctions that the general public does not endure (Pratt, 2008).
Nordic prison staff. Attitudes of staff, especially prison guards, are thought to directly
inuence the success of correctional rehabilitation programs and the successful reintegra-
tion of prisoners after their release (Kjelsberg, Skoglund, & Rustad, 2007). The make up of
prison guards within a prison is carefully analyzed to maximize the success of the inmates,
where prisons employ guards who vary in gender, age, and level of education (Pratt, 2008).
Interestingly, working as a prison guard is a desirable vocation, which is very competitive
and selective in Nordic countries (Pratt, 2008). Training includes two years of mentoring
prior to independent supervision of inmates, where trainees establish an understanding of
punitive policies, political inuences, and public perception that serves as the foundation
for the connection between the structure of the system and reform (Pratt, 2008).
Punitive Policies, Political Inuences, and Public Perception
Some of our most important contributions to understanding the functionality prison
systems stemmed from ethnographic methods (Austin & Irwin, 2001; Irwin, 1970/1987,
1980, 1985; Jacobs, 1977; Owen, 1998; Richards, 1990, 1995; Sykes 1956, 1958; Sykes
& Messinger, 1960). Over the past few decades, a number of studies have questioned the
40 K. Ward, A. J. Longaker, J. Williams, A. Naylor, C. A. Rose, and C. G. Simpson
utility of incarceration as an effective means of reducing crime rates. For example, Blum-
stein, Cohen, and Nagin (1978) and Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, and Visher (1986) concluded
that there is no systematic evidence suggesting general incapacitation and selective inca-
pacitation has had or could have a major impact on crime rates. Similarly, Sherman and
colleagues (1998), suggested that while the incarceration of persons who will continue to
commit crimes would reduce crime rates, “the number of crimes prevented by locking up
each additional offender declines with diminishing returns as less active and less serious
offenders are incarcerated (p. 8).”
American policies. At the present time, American prison reform efforts face major
challenges due to the changing political landscape, public perception of the penal system,
and the continuing national recession. Specically, living conditions within the prisons
are often viewed as an additional means of punishment (Mauer, 2011). Warden Norton, a
character in The Shawshank Redemption (Marvin & Darabont, 1994) gives one of the most
famous, albeit ctional, accounts of prisons in American culture, “[as] [f]ar as [politicians]
are concerned, there’s only three ways to spend the taxpayer’s hard-earned money when it
come to prisons. More walls. More bars. More guards.” A high prison population has been
one of many constraints toward establishing effective rehabilitative programs, especially
in the face of limited budgets and the increasing recession.
Conceivably, prisons may also create a space for criminal networking that may further
facilitate criminal activity. Linsky and Strauss (1986) found that states with the highest
incarceration rates maintained the highest crime rates. Specically, some attribute the in-
crease in criminal activity to a lack of prison supervision (LaGrange & Silverman, 1999),
or exposure to misbehavior (Longshore & Turner, 1998). Given the high rates of incarcera-
tion in the U.S., and the predictive factors associated with the cyclic nature of incarceration
and recidivism, penal system reform must start to emerge as a legislative priority.
International policies. In Scandinavia, it is believed that the prison conditions should
parallel real-world conditions as closely as possible (Pratt, 2008). The Finnish Department
of Prison and Probation (2004) has suggested that punishment is not the elimination of ba-
sic needs; it is simply the loss of liberty, demonstrating that the Finnish believe in “gentle
justice” which focuses on decreased recidivism through rehabilitation of prisoners (Ekun-
we, Jones, & Mullin, 2010). Similarly, policy statements in the Netherlands are aimed at
the resocialization and reintegration of inmates (Schinkel, 2003). Overall, Nordic offenders
are not stripped of their basic rights; their independence is restricted while they receive
rehabilitation services to deter future criminal activity (Von Hofer & Marvin, 2001).
Education Programs
America. Fundamentally, there is an inverse relationship between rates of recidivism
and level of education, where the higher the level of education, the less likely the person
is to be rearrested or imprisoned (Coylewright, 2004). For example, Coylewright (2004)
suggested that:
Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons
Every dollar spent on education yields more than two dollars in savings from avoiding
reincarceration alone. This is signicant in an era of state budget pressures when our
national (state and federal) corrections budget consumes more than $50 billion a year
(p. 403).
Yet, the mere implementation of these programs has been a challenge. According to Coyle-
wright (2004), only 33% of offenders receive educational training prior to release. How-
ever, critics suggest that only specic components or domains of education assist in reduc-
ing recidivism. For example, Adams and colleagues (1994) found that education within the
prison is only effective at reducing recidivism when the prison population has very little
education to begin with, and when this population receives at least 200 hours of educa-
tional services.
International. In direct contrast to American prison systems, education is a high pri-
ority within the Nordic prison system and is considered to be a right of the incarcerated
individual. Education is provided to the extent that the offender wishes to participate, and
guards are taught to encourage them to further their education. Prisoners have the option of
attending school full time, and the prisons offer all levels of education including university
degrees, which can be accessed via distance education (Pratt, 2008).
Occupational Programs
American occupational programs. Occupational programs in the United States seek
to develop offenders’ vocational skills in order to ensure their reintegration into society as
working and productive members. Like educational programs, occupational programs also
suffer from budgetary cutbacks and restraints associated with an increase in recidivism for
participating offenders (Petersilia, 1999). America’s overall decrease in the recidivism rate
may be due to some vocational programs requiring a diploma or GED to participate, thus
making it difcult to determine the extent to which vocational training was responsible for
the recidivism decrease (Lawrence, 2004). This education criterion excludes a large por-
tion of offenders from participating in the program. By the same token, occupational pro-
grams may be effectively implemented but prove fruitless because of little support nding
employment once released from prison (Lawrence, 2004). More specically, there needs to
be consistent treatment and a support network for offenders both inside and outside of the
prison walls, especially in vocational programs.
International occupational programs. Fundamentally, the success of the Nordic
model is contingent upon the country’s ability to secure potential employers. For example,
the Danish welfare state has effectively embedded policies that keep their prison model
functional within the surrounding community (Lacey, 2010). This program includes help-
ing offenders locate and secure jobs within the public sector that will maintain them fol-
lowing their release. Consequently, these work programs are instituted for individuals who
have demonstrated the ability to engage in gainful employment, while maintaining socially
appropriate behaviors.
42 K. Ward, A. J. Longaker, J. Williams, A. Naylor, C. A. Rose, and C. G. Simpson
In Finland, eligible inmates are sent to “labor camps” where they are compensated
with a normal wage for completed work. In turn, these earnings are used for them to pay
for their own expenses; including rent, utilities, food, and taxes. Additionally, these eligible
individuals are able to save money and provide for their families, or in some cases, send
nancial compensation to the families of their victims (Kenis et al., 2010; Pratt, 2008). For
example, Bastoy Prison, which is the model open prison in Norway, attempts to foster a
sense of responsibility among the inmates by providing employment opportunities based
on documented behavioral patterns and the development of trusting relationships between
the inmate and prison administration (Pratt, 2008).
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Programs
American mental health and substance abuse programs. The criminal justice sys-
tem has a duty to care for prisoners with physical disabilities; however, some argue that
treatment of psychological illnesses and drug addictions are not the responsibility of the
system (Estelle v. Gamble, 1976). However, the number of rehabilitative programs is dis-
proportionate to the number of inmates (Mumola, 1999; Mumola & Karberg, 2007), where
between 70-85% of those incarcerated are in need of alcohol or substance abuse treat-
ment, and only 13% of these inmates ever receive treatment (McCaffrey, 1998). While
most states reported having Therapeutic Communities (TC) or federally funded Residential
Substance Abuse Treatment centers, these programs are unable to service many prisoners
with substance abuse histories due to size limitations (Austin & Irwin, 2001). Similarly,
effective psychotherapy is essentially nonexistent for individual prisoners, because group
therapy is the most prevalent in the prison setting (Coylewright, 2004). Consequently,
group therapy is often ineffective due to the fear of being perceived as weak by revealing
too much personal information, or for being too cooperative with the prison administra-
tors (Coylewright, 2004). Therefore, effective reform requires a reassessment of the legal
system’s duty to provide psychological and substance abuse treatment.
International mental health and substance abuse programs. One common thread
between American and Nordic prison systems is that the majority of offenders are com-
monly substance abusers prior to incarceration (Friestad & Hansen, 2004; Mumola & Kar-
berg, 2007). However, the Nordic prison systems offer substance abuse and mental health
counseling to their inmates. For example, in the Netherlands, all healthcare, including
mental health, is viewed as a right for all individuals, including prisoners (Bulten, Vissers,
& Oei, 2008). According to Lobmaier, Kornor, Kunoe, and Bjorndal (2008), the most ef-
fective way to get a prisoner to accept treatment was through rapport development and the
urging of a trusted staff member. Unfortunately, when an offender with drug dependency
is released, it is reported that as many as 90% of them return to drugs (Butzin, Martin, &
Inciardi, 2005).
Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons
Behavioral Programs
American behavioral programs. Community-based behavioral programs have tradi-
tionally focused on providing intensive behavioral support through services and communi-
ty involvement, where programs’ structures and service provisions are guided by research
on social learning conceptualizations of criminal behavior (Gendreau, 1996). Gendreau
(1996) explains that these programs incorporate theory, empirical data, and practice to cre-
ate a space for the inmates’ behavioral growth and development. Based on the responsiv-
ity principle, these programs last a few months and apply behavioral approaches toward
rehabilitating high-risk offenders, with a concrete aim of developing interpersonal skills.
Therapists train and supervise the offenders in real-life, interpersonal and constructive
projects, where contingencies are enforced by weighting reinforcers and punishers at a rate
of at least 4 to 1. According to Gendreau and Ross (1981), reductions in recidivism rou-
tinely ranged from 25% to 60%, with the greatest reductions found for community-based
International behavioral programs. In contrast to the typical U.S. model, the Dutch
DCL prison uses a systematic behavioral system to ensure that desired behaviors are re-
inforced and undesired behaviors are either punished or extinguished. For example, pris-
oners plan their own schedules and are given choices regarding their preferred activities,
where these choices serve as reinforcers and lead to increased independence (Kenis et
al., 2010). In addition to choice activities, prisoners can earn monetary compensation for
appropriate behaviors, which can earn increased privileges and access to social activities
(e.g., television, phone calls, visiting hours, different accommodations; Kenis et al., 2010).
Overall, policymakers selected this model to increase inmates’ behavioral responsibilities,
and this model was more cost effective for inmates who were incarcerated for more than
four months (Kenis et al., 2010).
The current view on the treatment of prisoners in the United States is that an increase
in punishment yields a decrease in crime rates (French & Gendreau, 2006; Langan & Levin
2002). In reality, the U.S. crime and recidivism rate is higher than that of any other country
(Langan & Levin, 2002; Mauer, 2003). Considering the relationship between individuals
who are undereducated and incarcerated (Stanard, 2003), there seems to be an obvious
need to reform the current education system. In contrast, other countries have models for
prison systems that seem to be more effective at reducing recidivism and crime; most no-
tably, Nordic prisons employ a philosophy of rehabilitation to decrease recidivism (Kjels-
berg, et al., 2007). Consequently, the United States may possibly benet from a decrease in
recidivism by widely adopting features from the Nordic prison systems.
44 K. Ward, A. J. Longaker, J. Williams, A. Naylor, C. A. Rose, and C. G. Simpson
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About the Authors
Katie A. Ward, M.S.Ed, BCBA, is a recent graduate of Sam Houston State University
and Baylor University. She is currently Coordinator of Special Education Services for the
Brazosport Independent School District.
Amy J. Longaker, M. Ed., BCBA, is a recent graduate of Sam Houston State Univer-
sity in Huntsville, TX. She is currently a Behavior Analyst for Aldine Independent School
Jessica L. Williams, M.S.Ed, is a recent graduate of the Sam Houston State University
in Huntsville, TX. She is currently a special education teacher in the Spring Independent
Amber Naylor, M.Ed, BCBA, is a recent graduate of Sam Houston State University in
Huntsville, TX. She is currently a Board Certied Behavior Analyst at MHMRA of Harris
County’s ECI Program.
Chad A. Rose, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Department
of Language, Literacy and Special Populations at Sam Houston State University. His re-
search focuses on the predictive and protective factors associated with the overrepresentation
of students with disabilities within the bullying dynamic.
Cynthia G. Simpson, Ph.D., is the Dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Sci-
ences at Houston Baptist University. Her research focuses on linking assessment to instruc-
tion within an inclusive classroom and gender discrepancies within the bullying dynamic.
Incarceration Within American and Nordic Prisons
... In contrast to concerns about poor prison conditions in most African states, Hola and Wijk (2014) and Ward et al. (2013) laud the prison conditions in Scandinavian countries as very prisoner-friendly. Nordic countries, namely Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, are said to have favourable outcomes for rehabilitation and education of offenders such that prisoners have the right to attend school full time, whilst the United Kingdom waives fees to prisoners who make it into university (Ward et al., 2013). ...
... In contrast to concerns about poor prison conditions in most African states, Hola and Wijk (2014) and Ward et al. (2013) laud the prison conditions in Scandinavian countries as very prisoner-friendly. Nordic countries, namely Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, are said to have favourable outcomes for rehabilitation and education of offenders such that prisoners have the right to attend school full time, whilst the United Kingdom waives fees to prisoners who make it into university (Ward et al., 2013). In most African countries, prison inmates find it hard to meet their information needs due to inadequate resources in libraries, and policies that prohibit access to the Internet and the hostile nature of prison workers. ...
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The study examined the information behaviour of Mzimba prison inmates focusing on the research themes which are information needs, sources of information, and the barriers to seeking and using information of Mzimba prison inmates. A qualitative approach was used coupled with a case study design. Data were collected through focus group discussions and interviews from 12 inmates and two prison teaching staff respectively. The study found that health information, education information and spiritual information are the major information needs of Mzimba prison inmates. The study also found that the majority of respondents agreed that the six popular sources of information are their friends, teachers, radio, television, books and newspapers. However, the study concludes that Mzimba prison (library) fails to fulfil its role as a source of information and in meeting the information needs of inmates due to challenges of lack of information resources, limited time available for inmates to search for information, poor services and lack of funding for the school and library. The study recommends that the Malawi Prison Service should engage some stakeholders such as the Malawi National Library Services, National Initiative for Civic Education and Mzuzu University Library and Learning Resources Centre to support prison libraries with the provision of information resources to meet the information needs of inmates. The study further recommends that the Malawi Prison Service Command should lobby for financial support in order to hire qualified and capable librarians and teachers to manage prison libraries and schools.
... Similarities to the German and Dutch approaches can be seen in other European countries. Prison conditions in Scandinavian countries are also based around a belief that they should parallel conditions in the community as closely as possible (Ward et al. 2013). In the open facilities which many prisoners move to as they approach the end of their sentences, there is emphasis on both rehabilitation and normalisation (Ward et al. 2013 ...
... Prison conditions in Scandinavian countries are also based around a belief that they should parallel conditions in the community as closely as possible (Ward et al. 2013). In the open facilities which many prisoners move to as they approach the end of their sentences, there is emphasis on both rehabilitation and normalisation (Ward et al. 2013 ...
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This report explores strategies for delivering housing support to people leaving the prison system, helping overcome the challenges of findings suitable and stable accommodation after prison.
... Comparisons between different prisons-e.g. high-security vs. open prisons, or public vs. private prisons-remain inconclusive, with studies showing both different [12][13][14][15][16][17][18] and similar [10,[19][20][21] risks of repeat offending. ...
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Objectives To examine differences in recidivism rates between different prisons using two designs—between-individual and within-individual—to account for confounding factors. Methods We examined recidivism rates among 37,891 individuals released from 44 Swedish prisons in three security levels, and who were followed from 2006 to 2013. We used longitudinal data from nationwide registers, including all convictions from district courts. First, we applied a between-individual design (Cox proportional hazards regression), comparing reconviction rates between individuals released from prisons within the same security level, while adjusting for a range of individual-level covariates. Second, we applied a within-individual design (stratified Cox proportional hazards regression), comparing rates of reconviction within the same individuals, i.e., we compared rates after release from one prison to the rates in the same individual after release from another prison, thus adjusting for all time-invariant confounders within each individual (e.g. genetics and early environment). We also adjusted for a range of time-varying individual-level covariates. Results Results showed differences in the hazard of recidivism between different prisons in between-individual analyses, with hazards ranging from 1.22 (1.05–1.43) to 4.99 (2.44–10.21). Results from within-individual analyses, which further adjusted for all time-invariant confounders, showed minimal differences between prisons, with hazards ranging from 0.95 (0.87–1.05) to 1.05 (0.95–1.16). Only small differences were found when violent and non-violent crimes were analyzed separately. Conclusions The study highlights the importance of research designs that more fully adjust for individual-level confounding factors to avoid over-interpretation of the variability in comparisons across prisons.
... Prisons exist to enforce societal rules, maintain the safety of the general population and provide punitive sentences to offenders (Ward, Longaker, Williams, Naylor, Rose, & Simpson, 2013). Unhealthy conditions that exist in prison environments, poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, drug use, less training opportunities and low levels of physical activity often adopted by inmates, are all factors resulting to higher rates of health related problems (Fazel & Baillargeon, 2011;Naidoo & Wills, 2010;Marshall, Simpson, Stevens, 2000). ...
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Imprisonment is clearly associated with mental health problems among prisoners. Evidence across research literature shows that exercise in detention environments improves mental health. The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of an exercise program on mood profile and anxiety of inmates in Greek prisons. Sixty male inmates randomly assigned in two groups (control and experiment). Individuals of the exercise group received a 12 weeks training program at a frequency of three (3) training sessions each week of 60 minutes per session. Control group individuals did not participate in the exercise program. The Profile of Mood States (POMS) and The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) were administered to both groups prior and after exercise intervention. The findings of this study support the beneficial effect of exercise on mood and anxiety of inmates in Greek prison settings.
Criminal justice has been the dominant way in which civilization has tried to maintain collective security. This chapter covers the criminal justice system in the US and around the world. Through a system of penalties and rehabilitative efforts, a government endeavors to uphold social order and reduce crime. However, implementation is fraught with difficulties, and systemic failures and perceived injustices diminish the effectiveness of deterrence. The US has engaged in ever‐increasing incarceration rates in ways that are unprecedented in its own history as well as the world's. This ipso facto experiment with mass incarceration has yielded little result, with high recidivism and astronomical cost. Meanwhile, racial disparities and class favoritism undermine the system's legitimacy in ways that undermine its purpose. Punitive measures such as solitary confinement and the death penalty have proven to be not only cruel but self‐defeating. Based on ineffectiveness and detriment to society, voices to abolish prisons altogether have been rising. Meanwhile, several other nations have done better, showing that humane approaches focusing on community intervention, individual development, and restorative justice can be effective. Northern and Western European models seem to improve socialization and public safety as well.
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It is the fact that law enforcement officers must abide by the law in performing their official tasks. This obligation results logically from the police function itself. Since they are in charge of law enforcement, the officers must be representatives of its upholding. The reality, however, too often proves this rule wrong and there are many various forms of unlawful behavior of police officers to be the evidence of it. The majority of these conducts are represented by police powers overstepping, or the powers are used contrary to legal basis or without sufficient reason. These are actually the cases of police powers misuse that are most frequently the consequence of police officer’s negligence. However, police practice records also classic cases of misused powers, in other words the misuses of police power for the purpose not allowed by regulations, which are not related to the fulfillment of an official task or the goal of the use of the power is even contrary to the interests of the service. In considerable number of cases the question is actually of malicious misuse of police powers or even its use in order to achieve primarily personal interest. Corruptive behavior of police officers is singled out as a typical form of police powers misuse. The dangers and consequences that police corruption causes at both individual and social level undoubtedly attract attention of the expert public representing at the same time the key cause for the study of this phenomenon. The study of police corruption phenomenon is of huge scientific importance since it contributes to spreading the knowledge of the phenomenon shrouded in secrecy. Due to the lack of precise police corruption indicators, the conclusions on this phenomenon base primarily on the impressions from either personal experience or media representation. Personal experience, however, may be an exception rather than a rule, while media burdened by sensationalism usually approach the problem superficially and selectively. In order to prevent reaching final judgments based on lump estimates, it is necessary to analyze the problem of police corruption using the appropriate methods and respecting the principles of scientific perspective. This, on the other hand is not at all an easy task. Everyone who decides to engage in this endeavor soon becomes aware of that it is necessary to overcome a series of conceptual, methodological and practical obstacles. We have made an attempt in this paper to suggest all problems and limitations, offering practical advice at the same time which every researcher should bear in mind when designing a plan of police corruption study and by sticking to this plan they could at least partially avoid mistakes and increase the value of the results obtained.
This paper is designed to explore the challenges confronting the improvement of literacy and numeracy skills of prison inmates as perceived by prison inmates themselves. The study adopted a qualitative approach and used a focus group discussion to obtain data from seven prison inmates who were teachers in the school within the Nigerian prison system. The study identified emotional and behavioral problems associated with incarceration, lack of educational resources and inability to ascertain teachers’ educational qualifications as some of the challenges militating against the literacy and numeracy skills of prison inmates. On the basis of the study it was recommended that the government employ counseling psychologist to help resolve the emotional and behavioral problems of prison inmates as well as specialist adult educators able to take account of the life circumstances of their students. Implementing these recommendations will improve the literacy and numeracy skills of prison inmates, which will in turn contribute to their effective rehabilitation.
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This paper features Derk Pereboom’s replies to commentaries by Victor Tadros and Saul Smilansky on his non-retributive, incapacitation-focused proposal for treatment of dangerous criminals; by Michael McKenna on his manipulation argument against compatibilism about basic desert and causal determination; and by Alfred R. Mele on his disappearing agent argument against event-causal libertarianism.
The past several years have been a landmark moment for violence prevention, with renewed attention on the part of many international agencies, but especially the United Nations, with its adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The latter invites the world community to collaborate in an inclusive, long-ranging vision for the future, highlighting our interdependence and collective responsibility for humanity's future. A growing awareness that preventing violence does not just reduce death and disability but promotes creativity, economic growth, and general well-being is at the heart of this “movement”. An integration not only of the major disciplines but of various practical approaches is timely, and for this to occur, we require a broader overview of our existing societal structures. In this context, the remainder of this fifteen article series after a Global Health Studies course entitled, “Violence: Causes and Cures,” will review the mechanisms that society has used in an attempt to stem violence. This article, the tenth of the series, will briefly cover the criminal justice system in the United States and around the world. While the criminal justice system has played a major role in the effort to reduce violence, we learn that systemic failures and perceived injustices can diminish deterrent effect, while community-based intervention, individualized programs, and alternative justice approaches show promise. Similarly, punitive measures such as solitary confinement and the death penalty require reconsideration for reversing trends of self-defeating, irrational practices.
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Mental health care in prisons involves many stakeholders. As a consequence, the goals involved are divergent but there is no sound theoretical framework that accounts for the complexity of care in prison. This paper considers a broad theory and its conceptual framework that differentiates between prisoners with emotional suffering and those without, the need for care from an objective point of view as opposed to a subjective one, and the need for care related to mental health problems versus care related to limiting recidivism.
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Academic failure, exclusionary discipline practices, and dropout have been identified as key elements in a "school to prison pipeline." Although a strong body of research exists on the risks for delinquency, few studies have attempted to understand the variables within schools that exacerbate or counteract these risks. We conducted three multimethod studies that examined three school characteristics related to delinquency-academic failure, suspension, and dropout-at the elementary, middle, and high school levels respectively. We compared schools that were high performing with those that were low performing with respect to each of these characteristics. Our results suggest that school-level characteristics can help minimize the risks for youth delinquency. The majority of court-involved youth have experienced academic failure, school exclusion, and dropout. Our findings, in conjunction with those of other researchers, identified school-based policies and practices that may exacerbate or mitigate the risks for court involvement among youth. The results of our studies suggest that such school-level characteristics as supportive leadership, dedicated and collegial staff, schoolwide behavior management, and effective academic instruction can help minimize the risks for youth delinquency. Specific examples are provided from schools involved in these studies, in which positive school characteristics were evident. Implications and recommendations are offered for schools and school districts that wish to implement strategies that potentially protect students from the risks for delinquency.
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The goals of resocialization and reintegration that keep appearing in policy statements on the prison system in The Netherlands are critically reviewed in this contribution by means of a comparison with daily prison practice. A picture of the modern Dutch prison is sketched with the use of interviews and excerpts from letters. It would appear that in practice a lack of effort exists towards reintegration and resocialization. This difference between the practice of prison and the theory of policy and politics can be captured in a Durkheimian perspective. Lack of genuine resocialization shows an exclusion of the criminal, and this exclusion is brought forth by means of the discourse on resocialization, which, in its very formulation, excludes the criminal from 'society' a priori. This exclusion is strengthened by means of two mechanisms of social control: (1) the systematic discursive separation of an 'inside' and an 'outside' of society, as becomes apparent in political and popular discourse; and (2) an association of the criminal with the perverse and radically different.
This article examines the nature of delinquent and related problem behavior in schools. It suggests that public perceptions that the quality of many urban schools is low has the effect of exacerbating the concentration of populations of young people at elevated risk of both delinquent behavior and poor educational outcomes in some communities. It describes delinquency and related problem behaviors in schools and suggests that delinquents and dropouts are engaged in a variety of problem behaviors, and they are low achieving, poorly motivated, and uncommitted to school. It also discusses whether individual characteristics predispose young people to problem behavior and poor school achievement. Furthermore, the chapter reveals the implications of school demography for delinquency and educational outcomes. Finally, it presents an argument concerning whether or not schools should be concerned with preventing delinquency.
This article reviews a troubling report of a nationwide study of U.S. public high school graduation rates conducted by J. P. Greene (2001) of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. The statistics revealed that fewer students were graduating from high school in the United States than is being reported by school districts, states, and the National Center for Education Statistics. They also revealed that graduation rates were much lower for African American and Latino students than for White students. The author summarizes the research on the consequences of dropping out of school and discusses the implications of these findings for counselors and the counseling profession.