ABSTRACT

Two similar convergence debates have run in parallel in recent years. One’s catalyst was David Garland’s (2001) The Culture of Control, which outlines and attempts to account for the ‘punitive turn’ in Western penality, most evident in countries such as the United States and England and Wales but traceable elsewhere. The narrative of convergence elsewhere towards Anglo-American-style penal cultures has recently been contested by a number of comparative scholars (see Tonry 2007), as has the Anglo-American linkage itself. Franklin Zimring once remarked at an American Society of Criminology conference that Garland’s comparison of English and American penal severity was like comparing ‘a haircut to a beheading’, so vast were the differences between them. Nordic countries’ experience with penal harshening is similarly incomparable with American experience, or even that of England and Wales (Green 2008b), and John Pratt’s (2008a, b) thesis of Nordic penal exceptionalism holds that the Nordic nations have been able to buck most of the more punitive trends experienced in high-imprisonment societies, or at least to withstand and accommodate them differently.