The Globalization of Punishment

By Pratt, John | Corrections Today, February 2002 | Go to article overview

The Globalization of Punishment


Pratt, John, Corrections Today


It is well-known throughout the corrections industry that the United States leads the rest of the modern world in levels of incarceration. The U.S. rate has increased from about 230 per 100,000 of the population in 1979 to 709 per 100,000 in 2000, according to Nils Christie's Crime Control as Industry. However, if such a rate and pace of expansion dwarf those in other English-speaking countries, it should not obscure the fact that in such countries, prison levels also have grown -- dramatically, in some cases -- to levels that were not anticipated nor planned for as recently as 15 years ago.

In New Zealand, for example, the incarceration rate increased from 75 per 100,000 in 1986 to 160 per 100,000 in 2000, per Department of Corrections records. In England and Wales, the incarceration rate increased from 93 in 1986 to 125 in 1997, according to a 1998 Home Office report. In Australia as a whole, the rate increased from 65 per 100,000 in 1996 to 106 per 100,000 in 1998. As in the United States, there are differing levels of incarceration across the Australian states. According to research by Carlos Carcach and Anna Grant, in New South Wales, the incarceration rate increased from 70 per 100,000 in 1986 to 125 in 1998; in Queensland, from 68 to 124. In contrast, the incarceration rate in Victoria only increased from 50 per 100,000 to 61 during the same period.

In other words, there are similarities as well as differences between prison developments in the United States and other modern societies -- similarities in terms of the expansion of prison populations and differences in relation to the pace and extent of this development. How might we begin to explain these seemingly ambiguous trends?

Prison Population Growth

It has become clear that many of the expectations associated with penal development in modern societies for much of the 19th and 20th centuries have been put into reverse or taken off on new tangents. During most of that period, governments generally were intent on restricting the use of incarceration, sanitizing penal conditions and developing community-based sanctions to act as alternatives to prison. As such, legislative barriers were placed in front of the prison for an ever-expanding group of offenders -- juveniles, the mentally ill, the elderly, alcohol-dependent offenders, women, first-time offenders and in some of these countries, even property offenders. By the 1970s, these trends had reached their apex as prison came to be seen as an expensive and inhumane folly.

Thereafter, all these expectations began to change. Instead of high levels of incarceration being seen as a sign of shame, they now are more likely to be regarded as an indicator of political virility, something to be proclaimed rather than embarrassed about. Again, there is a new belief in what prison might now be able to achieve: It works not in the sense of rehabilitating offenders, but in terms of at least being able to keep them off the streets for long periods of time. In these respects, punishment, like other aspects of modern life, has been "globalized," i.e., trends that can be found in the United States are likely to be replicated in other countries.

New Terms and Tactics

A new language of punishment has developed in these English-speaking societies, including terms such as "zero tolerance" and "three strikes" (or, in some cases just two or even one strike). There also are new tactics of punishment -- exemplified by the three-strikes laws themselves -- indicative of a growing intolerance of offenders and a determination to place responsibility for their actions on them and to meet this with longer prison terms. For example, offenders may face long, mandatory sentences (even life) in three-strikes provisions or derivatives, or with additional indefinite detention under the U.S. sexual predator laws and their equivalents elsewhere. Further, in England, there are two-strikes provisions for property offenders and a commitment to ensure longer prison terms for repeat offenders.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Globalization of Punishment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.