Penal Systems: A Comparative Approach is a comprehensive and original introduction to the comparative study of punishment.

Analyzing twelve countries, authors Michael Cavadino and James Dignan offer an integrated and theoretically rigorous approach to comparative penology. They draw upon material provided by a team of eminent penologists to produce an important and highly readable contribution to scholarship in this area.

Early chapters introduce the reader to comparative penology, set out the theoretical framework and consider whether there is currently a ‘global penal crisis.’ Each country is then discussed in turn. Chapters on comparative youth justice and the privatization of prisons follow. Comparisons between countries are drawn within each chapter, giving the reader a synoptic and truly comparative vision of penality in different jurisdictions.

Globalized Penal Crisis?

Globalized penal crisis?

In some Western countries we have become accustomed to what could almost be called institutionalized penal crisis. Prisons are continually reported to be overpopulated, overcrowded, squalid and insecure, inhabited on the one hand by staff who are demoralized, disaffected and restless, and on the other by inmates simmering on the point of riot and rebellion. There is a general crisis of penal resources as places in prison and other facilities are stretched to deal with ever-increasing numbers. The whole criminal justice system – not just the penal system – suffers from a chronic crisis of legitimacy, being generally viewed as simultaneously ineffective in controlling crime, inefficient and often inhumane. And none of this is new: the situation has been prevailing ...

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