skip navigation

Justinfo Subscribe to Stay Informed

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar


NCJRS Abstract


Subscribe to Stay Informed
Want to be in the know? JUSTINFO is a biweekly e-newsletter containing information about new publications, events, training, funding opportunities, and Web-based resources available from the NCJRS Federal sponsors. Sign up to get JUSTINFO in your inbox.

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection.
To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database.

How to Obtain Documents
NCJ Number: NCJ 241991     Find in a Library
Title: Penal Policies in the Nordic Countries 1960–2010
  Document URL: HTML 
Author(s): Tapio Lappi-Seppälä
  Journal: Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention  Volume:13  Issue:Supplement 1  Dated:2012  Pages:85 to 111
Date Published: 2012
Page Count: 27
  Annotation: The article gives an overview of major changes in Nordic penal policies during the last 50 years.
Abstract: The article gives an overview of major changes in Nordic penal policies during the last 50 years. Three main threads are distinguished. From the late 1960s onwards the use of imprisonment was curbed by restricting the use of indeterminate sanctions, relaxing prison regimes, expanding the use of alternatives, and by reducing penalties for traditional property offenses and drunken driving. Partly overlapping with the period of ‘rational and humane’ criminal policy, attitudes were stiffening from the 1980s onwards, first towards drug offenses, then from the 1990s in violent and sexual offenses, often initiated by the Swedish models. The third thread underlines the fact that penal policies and law reforms are often ambivalent with both ‘repressive and liberal’ elements, as is the case with prison reforms, juvenile justice, and the expansion of community alternatives. In all, the Nordic countries were able to keep their incarceration rates lower than the rest of Europe, where several nations started in the 1960s from levels below the Nordic ones but ended up with much higher figures. The Nordic countries have not only much lower incarceration rates but also fewer offenders under supervised control, lower levels of fear and punitive demands, less serious violence, and fewer property offenses. Prisons are smaller and prison conditions better. So, even if also Nordic crime policy has become more offensive, more politicized, and more adaptive to the voices of the media, the talk of Nordic exceptionalism remains justified. Explanations go back to socio-economic and political structures and cultural traditions, high social and institutional trust, strong welfare states with smaller welfare differences, and consensual and corporatist political culture. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Violent crimes ; Sex offenses ; Community-based corrections (adult) ; Political influences ; Drug offenders ; Community service order ; Electronic monitoring of offenders ; Intermediate sanctions ; Sweden ; Denmark ; Norway
Type: Issue Overview
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

* A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's web site is provided.