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Comparative penology in perspective.

Brodeur, Jean-Paul
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Crime and Justice. 36(1): 49-91.

Being shaped by penal policies, prison rates are cultural constructs that may be determined by the qualitative meaning
of events–their emotional resonance–rather than by their relative frequency. … Canada–most particularly its large
French-speaking minority (22 percent of the Canadian population)–strives to distance itself from U.S. policies such as
the death penalty and the overreliance on incarceration. … IV), and penal culture and cross-national clusters of countries
(Sec. … Arguing for a right to be punished may appear malapropos, if not cynical, in our times of mass imprisonment.
… The distinction between punishment defined within a moral order into which the offender reintegrates after
suffering his sanction and naked harm inflicted to persons cast out of this moral order is of paramount importance. …
Tonry objects to the use of a similar explanation to account for the growth of incarceration in the United Kingdom and
the United States on the ground that the increase in imprisonment rates has been incomparably higher in the United
States (pp. 56, 60). … In contrast to the notion of abolishing the criminal justice system, the idea of eliminating crime
by fiat is unthinkable. … As the remainder of their essay demonstrates, the null hypothesis takes a more pregnant significance
when the Canadian stability is compared to the volatility of incarceration in other countries, such as the United
States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. … More fundamentally for comparative penology, most of the theories
and factors listed above assume that penal practices and their assessment–for example, the “prison works” mantra
that traveled from the United States to the United Kingdom (Newburn, in this volume)–migrate and that models in
criminal justice are traded between countries. … To prepare for the third millennium, a group of prominent Canadians
that included politicians, academics (among them a Nobel Prize winner), civil servants, and media people was formed
under the name of the Canada 21 Council. … According to the Sentencing Project, five of the ten leading nations in
incarceration rates are in the Caribbean ( … For now, such studies could not be conducted
in any country other than the United States, with the possible exception of the United Kingdom, because of the
lofty refusal of most Western countries to collect ethnically discriminant statistics. … In The Oxford History of the
Prison: The Practice of Punishment in Western Society, edited by Norval Morris and David J. (Abstract).


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