A Comparison of British and American Policies for Managing Dangerous Prisoners: A Question of Legitimacy
Roy D. King
This essay traces the development of policies regarding difficult and dangerous prisoners in Britain and the United States from the 1960s to the present day. In essence policies about dangerous prisoners in the Unites States have been driven primarily by concerns about bad behaviors inside prisons control problems whereas in Britain the driving force has been fears about escapes security risks. Although control problems and security risks can and do sometimes overlap, it is argued that the two issues can be analyzed separately and have different solutions. Failure to distinguish clearly between security and control issues has bedeviled policies in both countries, sometimes seriously undermining the legitimacy of the system concerned, and led to misunderstandings on both sides of the Atlantic. The essay is organized in three chronological periods in the hope that moving the discussion between the two countries will better bring out the similarities and differences.
Paul Mazerolle, John Rynne, and Samara McPhedran
This essay explores cross-national contexts in the use of imprisonment as a penal policy. Incarceration figures from select countries are presented with accompanying discussions of methodological and measurement challenges. Possible reasons for differences in the use of imprisonment across countries (including social, political, and economic influences) are also provided. The role of public opinion is explored, including similarities and differences in cultural attitudes regarding incarceration and capital punishment. This discussion also focuses on broader cultural differences that might have greater impact on a nation’s use of incarceration compared to specific sentencing polices or crime control strategies. From a global perspective, certain striking examples act as a helpful focal point for broader debate about macro-level factors and conceptual frameworks influencing the use of imprisonment and that may facilitate comparisons between different nations. Illustrative examples are the privatization of prisons and the rise of super maximum security (“supermax”) facilities.
Jennifer L. Hochschild and Colin Brown
Involvement in the criminal justice system is an illuminating vantage point from which to analyze the incorporation (or lack thereof) of immigrants into a host country. There are huge disparities across countries in the proportion of a state’s incarcerated population who are foreign. That proportion ranges from over 60 percent in Switzerland and Greece to one percent in Mexico and China. A number of plausible hypotheses can be developed about associations between particular factors and differences in proportions of immigrant imprisonment.Some expected connectionsdo not appear, including overall incarceration levels and stocks or flows of migrants. Other plausible relationships receive some support, such as the prominence of a market-based economic system, the proportion of Europeans among newcomers to a European country, and jus soli laws of citizenship. Finally, some plausible relationships yield surprises: policies to incorporate immigrants or promote social justice are often associated with high levels of foreign incarceration. Patterns of foreigner incarceration can discomfit both liberals and conservatives. Much more investigation needs to be done into relationships found and relationships expected but not visible.