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date: 01 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Quaker tradition in penal reform is largely understood as an Anglo-American story, focused on the birth of the penitentiary in America and Elizabeth Fry’s work in Britain, although it has more distant roots in early Friends’ experience of imprisonment, their perfectionist theology, and their insistence that no lawbreaker was beyond redemption. Fry’s work was emulated elsewhere in Europe and in Australia, but in reducing penal reform to a strategy for persuading elites to become more humanitarian it arguably depoliticized it. Subsequent Quaker influence on secular penal reform was persistent and benign, revitalized by the legacy of imprisoned conscientious objectors after both World Wars and the Vietnam war. More recent Quaker commitments to Alternatives to Violence (AVP) and restorative justice could usefully be contextualized in the abolitionist thinking that attracted some American and Canadian Quakers in the latetwentieth century, if contemporary penal challenges are to be met.

Keywords: penal reform, penitentiary, penal abolition, restorative justice, testimony, punishment

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