Source: (2007) International Criminal Justice Review. 17(2): 84-107.

This study examines the influence of political repression on the use of punishment in 100 of the world’s richest nations. Consistent with earlier empirical work, high levels of violent crime and population heterogeneity is associated with the use of imprisonment. Five different indicators of political freedoms are included in a series of ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models, including civil liberties and political rights, two indicators of democracy, and censorship of the press. Controlling for crime, population heterogeneity, and development, the authors find that autocratic nations punish more harshly. Examination of the correlates of detained (remanded) populations produces less consistent results, suggesting that the factors that contribute to detention may be different than those related to imprisonment. These findings suggest that the relationships between political repression be scrutinized more closely, especially the use of punishment in weak nations.