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.

The Netherlands: A Beacon of Tolerance Dimmed

The Netherlands: A beacon of tolerance dimmed

For several decades following World War Two, the Netherlands held a symbolic position as an example of penal enlightenment in the eyes of many liberal commentators. Speaking for ourselves as English criminologists, we were accustomed to pointing to the Netherlands as a prime symbol of a nation similar and close to England, yet whose penal policies were significantly less harsh. David Downes’ 1988 book Contrasts in Tolerance embodied this admiring attitude to Dutch penality. Nor was the attitude – at the time – misplaced. On the (admittedly rough) standard measure of imprisonment rate, the Dutch figure prior to the 1990s was consistently the lowest of any medium- or large-sized country in Western ...

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