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Abstract

The Scandinavian countries have become known for their low rates of imprisonment and relatively humane prison conditions. What, though, has made possible this model of imprisonment, so different from that of the Anglophone world? This article argues that contemporary Scandinavian prison policy has been the product of long-term socio-political forces and cultural values leading to three distinct phases of prison development: (1) 1870s–1930s: separate confinement, penance and the influence of Lutheran pastors in prison practice; (2) 1930s–1960s: welfare, medicalization and work; (3) 1970s–present: a tension between the ‘normalization’ of prison life against recent concerns with security. The article traces in the development and interplay of these three phases against the background of social, political and cultural change in Scandinavia.
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... In comparative criminology, Nordic countries, including Norway, are consistently portrayed as exceptions to the global move towards growing rates of imprisonment and tough on crime polices with less welfareorientation . A balance of control versus rehabilitation is typified in the Norwegian prison system (Ugelvik, 2016), where policy aims to create conditions that seek to minimise prisoner deprivation, fear and suffering (Pratt & Eriksson, 2011). The Norwegian prison system is widely regarded worldwide for its focus on prisoner treatment, rehabilitation and successful reintegration in the society with low reoffending rates of 20%, in contrast with other European countries such as England and Wales that have a reoffending rate of 45% (Fazel & Wolf, 2015;Pakes & Holt, 2017). ...
... Nordic countries are considered to maintain more humane prison regimes because of their distinctive welfare state models. In Norway, for example, this model is rooted in strong cultures of equality, social solidarity and cohesion (Pratt & Eriksson, 2011). As a welfare state, the main goals of the Norwegian state is to give members of society the best possible conditions to maximise their own potential while remaining free to control him/herself and administer their own freedom (Foucault, 2007). ...
... In Norway, the underpinning penal policies have aimed to uphold traditions that direct staff and promote redemption, learning, training, healing, and the commitment to normalisation in prisons (Pratt & Eriksson, 2011). Compared to the rehabilitation and reintegrative strategies of other countries, the Norwegian approach is deemed to be a good one as many prisoners receive the help to manage and establish a life without crime (Johnsen & Fridhov, 2018). ...
Chapter
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In secured institutions, which include prison services, violence between clients or towards staff has a major impact, eliciting feelings of stress, anger and fear for those involved. In this chapter we explain how violence can be understood as a complexity of multiple factors, and why a structured risk management strategy is necessary to adequately assess and manage violence. We describe specifically the Early Recognition Method (ERM) as a step-wise forward strategy aiming to identify, formulate and manage early warning signs of violence and allows a risk management dialogue to develop between prison staff and inmates. The ERM-dialogue strategy has successfully been developed and applied in forensic psychiatry and in this chapter we explore how, in a process of innovation, the knowledge and research of the ERM-applied in forensic services, has been transferred to prison services. The ‘multivoicedness’ of the ERM is explored through the theoretical concept of the ‘Self’
... In comparative criminology, Nordic countries, including Norway, are consistently portrayed as exceptions to the global move towards growing rates of imprisonment and tough on crime polices with less welfareorientation . A balance of control versus rehabilitation is typified in the Norwegian prison system (Ugelvik, 2016), where policy aims to create conditions that seek to minimise prisoner deprivation, fear and suffering (Pratt & Eriksson, 2011). The Norwegian prison system is widely regarded worldwide for its focus on prisoner treatment, rehabilitation and successful reintegration in the society with low reoffending rates of 20%, in contrast with other European countries such as England and Wales that have a reoffending rate of 45% (Fazel & Wolf, 2015;Pakes & Holt, 2017). ...
... Nordic countries are considered to maintain more humane prison regimes because of their distinctive welfare state models. In Norway, for example, this model is rooted in strong cultures of equality, social solidarity and cohesion (Pratt & Eriksson, 2011). As a welfare state, the main goals of the Norwegian state is to give members of society the best possible conditions to maximise their own potential while remaining free to control him/herself and administer their own freedom (Foucault, 2007). ...
... In Norway, the underpinning penal policies have aimed to uphold traditions that direct staff and promote redemption, learning, training, healing, and the commitment to normalisation in prisons (Pratt & Eriksson, 2011). Compared to the rehabilitation and reintegrative strategies of other countries, the Norwegian approach is deemed to be a good one as many prisoners receive the help to manage and establish a life without crime (Johnsen & Fridhov, 2018). ...
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This Open Access edited collection seeks to improve collaboration between criminal justice and welfare services in order to help prepare offenders for life after serving a prison sentence. It examines the potential tensions between criminal justice agencies and other organisations which are involved in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders, most notably those engaged in mental health care or third sector organisations. It then suggests a variety of different methods and approaches to help to overcome such tensions and promote inter-agency collaboration and co-working, drawing on emerging research and models, with a focus on the practice in European and Scandinavian countries. For academics and practitioners working in prisons and the penal system, this collection will be invaluable.
... The normalization of prison conditions has since the early 1970s been an important objective in Finnish prison policy alongside rehabilitation, security, and crime prevention. Humane, normalized, and re-integrative prison conditions have remained central features of the prison system, also in times of increasing punitive attitudes (Pratt and Eriksson, 2011). ...
... In the Nordics, the interpretation of the principle of normalization has been far-reaching and practical. The principle of 'less eligibility', implying that prisoners' living conditions should not be improved above the standards available to the poorest among the working poor, has had limited influence on prison policy in the Nordic countries (Pratt and Eriksson, 2011). Prisons are rather understood as integrated parts of the ambitious welfare state (Ugelvik, 2016). ...
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The ambition of living ‘a normal life’ appears to be common among prisoners prior to release. Besides portraying for the life desired upon release, the notion of a normal life can say something about what the persons aspiring to it thinks of their present life, what they want their life to be like in future, and what they consider attainable. This article explores the subjective and social considerations of prisoners’ desires for normality. Qualitative interviews with prisoners at low-security open prisons in Finland ( N = 45) revealed three narratives of normality: (1) nostalgic normality, balancing the disruption caused by imprisonment; (2) imagined normality, envisioning a future life script; (3) challenging views of normality, which is still desired, but whose legal and conventional norms are contested. While prison authorities and prisoners generally idealize normality in terms of conduct, prisoners’ stories reveal that they utilize the notion for a number of reasons. The personal narratives of normality can function as genuine and strategic expressions of conformity or resistance. In their narratives, the prisoners disclose the obstacles to normality that they anticipate, showing the uncertainty behind their simple wish to “just live a normal life.”
... 1960 m. Šiaurės šalyse pradėti debatai apie institucinį socialinių paslaugų teikimą ir gerovės valstybės vaidmenį baudžiamojoje politikoje prisidėjo prie per dažnos įkalinimo praktikos taikymo kritikos ir reformavimo 53 . Šiandien normalizavimo arba normalumo principas yra tapęs neatsiejama Šiaurės šalių baudžiamosios politikos kryptimi. ...
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Open prisons are portrayed as less harmful custodial institutions than closed prisons, and prison systems that rely more heavily on low security imprisonment are typically considered to have a more humane and less punitive approach to punishment. However, few studies have systematically compared the subjective experiences of prisoners held in open and closed prisons, and no study has yet compared the role and function of open prisons across jurisdictions. Drawing on a survey conducted with prisoners (N = 1082) in 13 prisons in England and Wales and Norway, we provide the first comparative analysis of experiences of imprisonment in closed and open prisons, conducted in countries with diverging penal philosophies (‘neoliberal’ vs. ‘social democratic’). The article documents that open prisons play a much more significant role in Norway than in England and Wales; that prisoners in both countries rate their experience significantly more positively in open compared to closed prisons; and that while imprisonment seems to produce similar kinds of pains in both types of prisons, they are perceived as less severe and more manageable in open prisons. These findings suggest important implications for comparative penology, penal policy, and prison reform.
Chapter
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how the humane Norwegian policy principles and values may impact the prison-based practices and the implications of these for the collaborative work undertaken by front-line personnel. Humane traditions are considered a substantial focus of the Norwegian prison system and its policies. The approach in Norway is supported by increasing empirical evidence that shows the system to centralise the welfare of inmates. It emphasises offender rehabilitation and reintegration rather than merely punishment as a fundamental means to reduce reoffending. However, the collaborative practice that may arise as a consequence of these traditional values is underexplored. Two case studies were undertaken with front-line staff working in a Norwegian prison transitional residence (Overgangsbolig). This is the final phase of an inmate’s sentence while being reintegrated back into society. The study found that staff in their collaborative working practices adhered either to the aim of normalising the lives of their inmates after long periods of incarceration (normalisation ideals) or reparative ideals that reflected the system’s humane focus on rehabilitation and reintegration takes precedence over punishment. We conclude that irrespective of differing professional disciplines, there seems to be compatibility between the overarching principles and values of penal policy and front-line ideals to promote collaborative practices at the reintegrative phase of the Norwegian prison system. The shared application of these humane ideals promoted collaborative practice among the front-line workforce while focusing upon the provision of welfare to inmates and their impending reintegration back into society.
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Europa ha construido una política criminal humanitaria por lo que respecta al encarcelamiento a partir de tres principios básicos: limitación del uso de la prisión, normalización de la vida en la cárcel y reinserción como principal objetivo de la privación de libertad. Consecuentemente, parece relevante analizar si los diferentes sistemas penitenciarios europeos se acercan a este ideal. Partiendo de la existencia de una pluralidad de fuentes que nos acercan a la realidad del encarcelamiento, este trabajo se basa principalmente en una encuesta realizada a una muestra representativa de personas que experimentaron el encarcelamiento en Cataluña. La investigación pone de relieve un avance positivo en los principios de normalización y reinserción con respecto a anteriores estudios. Sin embargo, en ambos principios se aprecian aspectos preocupantes que requieren la implementación de nuevas políticas.Europe has built a humanitarian criminal policy regarding imprisonment under three basic principles: limitation of the use of prison, normalization of prison life and reintegration as the main aim of the deprivation of freedom. Therefore, it seems relevant to assess whether European penitentiary systems fulfil this ideal. Moving from the repertory of sources that describe the reality of imprisonment, this paper is based mainly on a survey of a representative sample of people that have experienced imprisonment in Catalonia. The paper reveals a more positive fulfilment of the principles of normalization and reintegration in comparison with previous literature. However, concerning both principles there are some aspects of concern that require implementing new policies.
Article
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The principles of normalisation and openness are cornerstones of modern prison philosophy. Normalisation involves making prison life as similar as possible to normal outside life and openness counteracts the negative effects of the total institution (Rentzmann, 1996). Both normalisation and openness imply that it should be the norm to place a person in an open prison. He or she should only be placed in a closed prison if there is a concrete, real risk of escape or if the prisoner is considered dangerous. The question is: does the Danish prison system in the era of the millennium still pay tribute to these two cornerstones when it comes to prisoner placement and furloughs? Since sentence length and disciplinary offences can determine both prisoner placement and prison furloughs, the article also explores developments in determinate sentencing and disciplinary punishment. Based on statistics and legislation, the analysis reveals that the severity of penalties increased during the period 2002-2019, e.g., average sentence length increased, more prisoners were placed in closed prisons, fewer prison furloughs were permitted, and more prisoners were exposed to disciplinary punishment. These developments can be explained by laws and rules implemented to deal with gang-related crime andgang-connected prisoners, who make up about 10 percent of the total prison population. While these strict laws and rules are designed to discipline the few, they have influenced the many and undermined the basic principles of normalisation and openness in Danish prisons.
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This article-based thesis explores topics such as power and reactions to power, the relationship between control and rehabilitation, practices of drug rehabilitation, and use, distribution and exchange of drugs in prison. The analysis are based upon a close reading of two important Norwegian prison studies and an ethnographic fieldwork conducted in two drug rehabilitation units in a closed Norwegian prison. The ethnographic data consists of field notes from participant observation in the prison over a period of eight months, as well as 35 qualitative interviews with prisoners and prison staff. Theoretical perspectives on power, legitimacy and resistance inform the analysis in this thesis.
Chapter
If we think of those who end up in prison on account of their offences against the law as a social group, the following characteristics are perceptible: 1. psychological traits reflected by (a) rough emotional life and lack of concern for others, (b) difficulties in personal relationships, (c) lack of perseverance, and (d) inability to understand social and family duties and responsibilities; 2. feelings of insecurity and lack of trust in others, often due to the fact that they come from broken homes; 3. lack of vocational training, and 4. immoderate drinking and spending.
Chapter
This chapter raises certain arguments and historical analogies which may assist in taking a few preliminary sightings of some distinctive features of the current British penal landscape. I hope to show that some of the present developments, which initially appear rather particular and ‘of the moment’, interestingly bear comparison with much earlier ideas and events. That comparison may suggest, at least in outline, a way of conceptualizing and responding to the contemporary scene.
Article
Countries vary enormously in their punishment policies and practices. A nascent literature has begun to explain these differences. There are no simple explanations. Neither high or rising crime rates nor heightened public anxiety or severity explains why policies become tougher or are tougher in some places than in others. The most powerful predictors of moderation in policy and practices are high levels of confidence in fellow citizens and in government, strong welfare states, and consensus compared with conflict political systems. Other important factors include insulation of the legal system from politics, the way in which justice system personnel are trained, and the nature of the mass media.