Imprisonment in a global world

Rethinking penal power

Authored by: Mary Bosworth , Inês Hasselberg , Sarah Turnbull

Handbook on Prisons

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415745659
eBook ISBN: 9781315797779
Adobe ISBN:


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Traditionally, scholars in prison studies have considered penal institutions to be bounded by the nation-state. In countries without the death penalty, the prison is the most extreme expression of state power and coercion on those within sovereign borders. The prison is, in short, an institution inherently bound to the territory in which it is situated. When a wider view is taken, it is typically comparative, often hinging on relative rates of imprisonment. Thus, we can find with ease lists of global prison populations, and accounts in which countries are grouped together based on their penal practices – usually their perceived punitiveness, as represented by the imprisonment rate – are also widespread (Cavadino and Dignan 1997; Lacey 2008; Pratt 2009; Pratt and Eriksson 2013).

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