ABSTRACT

The international trend of mass imprisonment (Garland 2001) has not yet reached the same levels in the Nordic countries. However, safe custody, risk management and the expansion of security have become issues of high priority also in Sweden. One reason for this is a number of spectacular escapes from high-security prisons in 2004. These were carried out with the use of high levels of violence, heavy armaments, shootings and by using trucks to force gates, etc. The media debate that followed was extensive. A political consequence was the appointment of a new director general of the Prison Services, a highly ranked police officer. The new political directive to the Prison and Probations Service was ‘no more escapes from high security’. In the aftermath of these escapes, and presumably also because of international influences, security measures in prisons have been tightened considerably. In most closed prisons, new electrified fences and new walls have been erected and new airport-like security checks for incoming staff and visitors have been set up (see Pratt 2008b). The number of prison officers specialized in security work has risen. However, at the same time, the number of rehabilitation and treatment programmes has increased. A more ‘scientific’ approach to ‘what works’, usually deeply rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and grounded in evidence-based methods, has been a clear policy development in later years (Andersson and Nilsson 2009: 194). A scientific board has been set up to assess the evidence of the treatment programmes. This latter development of ‘scientification’ is partly an international trend, but also very much in line with a Swedish tradition of social engineering. It is also a revival of the individual treatment idea, the paradigm that dominated prior to the radicalization movement of the 1970s with its focus on social relations and contextual factors. In relation to Swedish culture, these programmes are powerful symbols of the Prison and Probation Service as a ‘rehabilitative’ institution.