World Penal Systems: A Survey

World Penal Systems: A Survey

World Penal Systems: A Survey

World Penal Systems: A Survey

Excerpt

It gives me much pleasure to respond to Professor Teeters' kind invitation to write a few introductory words to his scholarly survey of the world's prison systems. Coming as it does so soon after his and Professor Barnes' monumental New Horizons in Criminology it is one more proof of the author's untiring devotion to the cause of penal reform.

The present writer has every reason to be conscious of the great practical significance of international studies on the subject. Through the force of circumstances he has been brought into close contact with the widely differing systems of criminal justice of two big European countries. Moreover, in recent times he has had the good fortune of meeting some of the experts from various parts of the Continent assembled in Londonwhich has become their temporary home. The need for international collaboration between penologists could have scarcely been more drastically demonstrated.

Nevertheless, there are obvious limits to what nations can learn from one another in this field. Many methods which seem to work admirably in some countries might completely fail in others where the essential material and ideological prerequisites are not existent. As Professor Teeters reports from one of the countries surveyed: "Turkish penal methods must be based upon the Turkish prisoner and Turkish social conditions, rather than merely copying conditions suitable elsewhere." However, where such a repudiation of foreign methods is regarded as indispensable, it should be based upon the most complete knowledge of actual conditions abroad.

It is, therefore, one of the foremost duties of the penologist to supply that knowledge. It should at least not be his fault if too little use is made of new ideas that have proved their worth in some parts of the globe. A close study of Professor Teeters' book shows that there are indeed very few civilized countries that have nothing to contribute to the general re-making of the various national penal systems which will probably be a common feature of the postwar period. Almost every country surveyed has been a pioneer in developing at least one particular idea worthy of special consideration by an international forum.

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