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NCJ Number: 67740 Find in a Library
Title: DANISH USE OF PRISONS AND COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVES
Journal: JOINT ENDEAVOR  Volume:6  Issue:3  Dated:(JANUARY 1980)  Pages:17-18,39-43
Author(s): M UMBREIT
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: Indiana Cmtte for the Humanities
Indianapolis, IN 46208
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE USE OF PRISONS AND COMMUNITY-BASED CORRECTIONS IN THE DANISH CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS REVIEWED AND COMPARED WITH THAT OF THE U.S., AND IMPLICATIONS FOR AMERICAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE POLICY ARE IDENTIFIED.
Abstract: DENMARK HAS AS MUCH, IF NOT MORE, CRIME THAN THE U.S., BUT THE QUALITY OF THAT CRIME DIFFERS GREATLY, WITH DENMARK HAVING AN EXTREMELY LOW AMOUNT OF VIOLENT CRIME. AN EVEN MORE DRAMATIVE DIFFERENCE IS SEEN IN DENMARK'S POLICY OF SENTENCING OFFENDERS; 81 PERCENT OF ALL DANISH PRISONERS SERVE LESS THAN 1 YEAR. WITHIN THE PRISON SETTING, THE DANES VIEW PRISONS' PRIMARY PURPOSE AS PUNISHMENT WITH CONDITIONS WITHIN THAT DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY AS HUMANE AS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE. IN THE U.S., THE PUNISHMENT ASPECT OF PRISON IS BOTH DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY AND OF MANY BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. MOREOVER, DENMARK HAS A POLICY OF DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION (CALLED 'DOWNPENALIZATION'), LEGALIZING BEHAVIOR PREVIOUSLY DEFINED AS CRIMINAL. IN CONJUNCTION WITH THIS REDUCTION OF RELIANCE ON THE PRISON AS A CRIMINAL SANCTION, DENMARK EMPLOYS LITERAL COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVES TO BEING LOCKED UP IN PRISON. WHILE THE U.S.'S COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVES SEEM TO BE MORE VARIOUS AND ARE MORE STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND VOLUNTEERS THAN IN DENMARK, THE U.S. COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS SYSTEM OFTEN OPERATES AS A PARALLEL SYSTEM TO THE BASIC SYSTEM OF INCARCERATION OR PRISONS. SOME ARGUE THAT U.S. ALTERNATIVES ACTUALLY WIDEN THE NET OF SOCIAL CONTROL BY THE STATE. THUS, ALTHOUGH THE DANISH SYSTEM CAN BE CRITICIZED FOR ITS LENGTHY PRETRIAL DETENTIONS (TO KEEP EVIDENCE 'PURE') AND FOR ITS LACK OF VARIETY AND PRIVATE INVOLVEMENT IN COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION, THIS SYSTEM CAN OFFER MUCH TO THE U.S. IN POLICYMAKING. THE U.S. SHOULD RECOGNIZE PRISONS AS INSTRUMENTS OF PUNISHMENT, NOT AS CORRECTIONS. U.S. LEADERS SHOULD PUSH FOR MORE HUMANE, PROGRESSIVE, AND RATIONAL POLICIES, AND LIKE THE DANES, COMMIT THEMSELVES TO SOCIETY'S RESPONSIBILITIES FOR CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. FINALLY, THE U.S. SHOULD FOLLOW THE DANISH EXAMPLE OF DEPENALIZATION, AS THERE IS LITTLE EVIDENCE THAT LONGER PRISON SENTENCES REDUCE FUTURE CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED. (MHP)
Index Term(s): Alternatives to institutionalization; Community-based corrections (adult); Community-based corrections (juvenile); Decriminalization; Denmark; Incarceration; United States of America
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67740

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