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date: 21 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides an overview of the literature leading comparative penological research. Starting from the concept of “punitiveness” as measured in imprisonment rates, it explores and critically assesses how differences in prison populations, and changes over time, have been explained by comparative criminologists. In doing so, it identifies drivers of contemporary penal policies on a global, national, and regional scale. It does, however, also pay particular attention to anomalies, deviating patterns, and overrepresented groups and discusses the validity of the explanatory models in this respect. Finally, it looks at the future of penal policy and prospects for penal reform.

Keywords: punitiveness, imprisonment rates, comparative penological research, overrepresented groups, penal reform

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