In the growing field of comparative criminal justice, the Nordic countries are regularly used as exceptions to the global move towards growing rates of imprisonment and tougher, less welfare-oriented crime-control policies.

Why are the Nordic penal institutions viewed as so ‘different’ from a non-Nordic vantage point? Are Nordic prisons and penal policies in fact positive exceptions to the general rule? If they are, what exactly are the exceptional qualities, and why are the Nordic societies lucky enough to have them? Are there important overlooked examples of Nordic ‘bad practice’ in the penal area? Could there be a specifically Nordic way of doing prison research, contributing to the gap between internal and external perspectives?

In considering – among others – the above questions, this book explores and discusses the Nordic jurisdictions as contexts for the specific penal policies and practices that may or may not be described as exceptional.

Written by leading prison scholars from the Nordic countries as well as selected researchers from the English-speaking world ‘looking in’, this book will be particularly useful for students of criminology and practitioners across the Nordic countries, but also of relevance in a wider geographical context.

chapter 1|10 pages


Exceptional prisons, exceptional societies?
ByJane Dullum, Thomas Ugelvik

part |2 pages

Part I Exceptions or not?

chapter 2|25 pages

Scandinavian exceptionalism in penal matters: reality or wishful thinking?

Reality or wishful thinking? In the footsteps of Margaret Mead
ByThomas Mathiesen

chapter 3|20 pages

A critical look at Scandinavian exceptionalism

Welfare state theories, penal populism and prison conditions in Denmark and Scandinavia
ByPeter Scharff Smith

chapter 4|19 pages

Media, crime and Nordic exceptionalism: the limits of convergence

The limits of convergence oduction
ByDavid A. Green

part |2 pages

Part II Commodification of exceptional penal systems

chapter 5|21 pages

‘The most progressive, effective correctional system in the world’

The Swedish prison system in the 1960s and 1970s
ByRoddy Nilsson

chapter 6|19 pages

Comparisons at work

Exporting ‘exceptional’ norms
ByAndrew M. Jefferson

part |2 pages

PART III Closing in on the Nordic I: cultures of equality?

chapter 7|18 pages

The dark side of a culture of equality

Reimagining communities in a Norwegian remand prison
ByThomas Ugelvik

chapter 8|17 pages

Imprisoning the soul

ByCecilie Basberg Neumann

chapter 9|17 pages

A blessing in disguise

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis and Swedish correctional treatment policy in the twenty-first century
ByRobert Andersson

part |2 pages

PART IV Closing in on the Nordic II: prison management and prison cultures

chapter 10|24 pages

Are liberal-humanitarian penal values and practices exceptional?

ByBen Crewe, Alison Liebling

chapter 11|16 pages

Prison size and quality of life in Norwegian closed prisons in late modernity

ByBerit Johnsen, Per Kristian Granheim

chapter 12|18 pages

A harsher prison climate and a cultural heritage working against it

Subcultural divisions among Swedish prison officers
ByAnders Bruhn, Odd Lindberg, Per-Åke Nylander

part |2 pages

Part V Scandinavian exceptionalism revisited

chapter 13|26 pages

In defence of Scandinavian exceptionalism

ByJohn Pratt, Anna Eriksson