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NCJ Number: 228936 
Title: Controlling Prisoner Rates: Experiences From Finland (From Resource Material Series No. 74, P 3-19, January 2008, Grace Lord, ed. - See NCJ-228935)
Author(s): Dr. Tapio Lappi-Seppala
Date Published: January 2008
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders
Tokyo, Japan
Sale Source: United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders
26-1 Harumi-Cho, Fuchu
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Country: Japan
Annotation: This paper identifies the factors that have contributed to the decline in incarceration rates in Finland since World War II, notably between 1975 and 2000, while the global pattern was characterized by rising incarceration rates from the 1970s through 2005.
Abstract: Based on statistical analyses, the paper rejects the notion that incarceration rates are directly related to crime rates. Instead, the paper concludes that the long-term decline in incarceration rates in Finland has been influenced both by macro-level structural factors and ideological change in penal theory, as well as legal reforms and changing practices in sentencing and prison enforcement. The outcome was the emergence of new strategies of crime prevention viewed as the most rational and effective approach for reducing crime and its effects. A distinctive feature of Finland’s approach has been to rely on the development of normative morals and values rather than fear of punishment (deterrence) as the basis for crime prevention. Under such as system, people refrain from illegal behavior because the behavior itself is regarded as harmful to oneself and others, rather than because they fear punishment. Based in this rationale for crime prevention, from the late 1960s through the 1990s, some 25 law reforms occurred, all having the effect of reducing the use of imprisonment as a primary means of preventing crime. After reviewing the specific features of these law reforms, the paper identifies the factors that enabled the reforms to be embraced by politicians and the general public. Factors identified are a political culture that gives priority to research and expert opinion as a basis for consensus, a media that gives priority to research-based data and reliable information rather than tabloid drama, and a judicial culture responsive to rational sentencing reforms. 17 figures and 1 table
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Correctional reform; Effects of imprisonment; Finland; Incarceration; Trend analysis
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