A Review of Pratt and Eriksson’s “Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism”

The Nordic states of Sweden, Finland, and Norway have taken a much less punitory stance toward offense than their Anglophone opposite numbers. Pratt and Eriksson’s bookContrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalismargues that in Nordic states, corporate societal coherence is culturally, sacredly, educationally, and politically deep-rooted. As a consequence, Nordic states treat their wrongdoers non as social failures but citizens in demand of informal control strengthening, which has virtually eliminated their demand for mega-prisons. In contrast, Pratt and Eriksson argue, Anglophone states – peculiarly Britain, Australia, and New Zealand – stress individuality. The subsequent deficiency of societal coherence end point from individuality is evident in rough penal political orientation, where the condemnable justness system seeks to penalize wrongdoers for their behaviour, non taking into history the long-run social effects of captivity. Pratt and Eriksson’s book is alone in that it explores penal political orientation from two diametrically opposite positions. It is a must read for those seeking fresh condemnable justness policy thoughts from around the universe.

One insightful differentiation that Pratt and Eriksson made early on between Nordic and Anglophone penal governments was how they view criminalism. In Nordic states, felons are viewed as the merchandise of inauspicious societal conditions. In Anglophone states, felons are viewed as separately responsible for their actions ( pg. 23 ) . These opposing positions are of import because in each society, they have shaped the response to offense otherwise. Since felons in Nordic states are viewed as the merchandise of inauspicious societal conditions, they are non degraded when admitted to prison and to the full retain their citizen privileges. In contrast, Anglophone states tend to banish felons, depriving them of their civilian rights and penalizing them harshly. Consequently, Pratt and Eriksson argue, Nordic states maintain a holistic committedness to human rights that does non be to the same grade in Anglophone states.

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After reading their book, it seemed that most of the literature Pratt and Eriksson consulted was governmentally published, or some other signifier of official informations. Although I think official statistics are a valuable beginning of quantitative informations, some of Pratt and Eriksson’s cultural illations about the solidarity of the Nordic population based on such informations might except of import qualitative informations such as the testimony of occupants sing their point of view on societal coherence, for illustration. Further, their narrative seemed to back up an image of Nordic states that advertised their strengths in condemnable justness policy, but did non give sufficient attending to their failings. In fact, the lone Nordic condemnable justness policy failing I could happen that Pratt and Eriksson shed visible radiation on was their overexploitation of lone parturiency ( pg. 121 ) .

Pratt and Eriksson’s book implied that Nordic states are superior to Anglophone states non merely in their condemnable justness attack, but besides in their history. I found this to be unsettling because they did non adequately research Anglophone history in comparing to Nordic history, which, as I will discourse subsequently, is arguably well-suited for societal alteration. Alternatively, they focused on the fact that “Anglophone societies…carry an inordinate, overloaded luggage of marks and symbols that are unrelated to the offense rate… [ which ] gives messages of reassurance to dying and insecure communities” ( pg. 27 ) . Further, by utilizing over 200 old ages of history as a background in both Nordic and Anglophone states, Pratt and Eriksson efficaciously dismissed the likeliness that Anglophone states would be able to implement the Nordic system of justness due to their drawn-out history of individuality. In my position, this left the reader with a blue take-home message about Anglophone countries’ ability to alter.

Although Pratt and Eriksson did non utilize the United States as a comparative illustration, one can presume that they would hold included it in the Anglophone class. Their pessimism toward the possibility of Anglophone condemnable justness reform deserves a rebuttal. Pratt and Eriksson implied that Anglophone states are inherently individualist, and hence will dubiously of all time have the same degree of societal coherence as Nordic states. I beg to differ. Using Pratt and Eriksson’s illustration of how both Nordic and Anglophone countries’ condemnable justness policy reflects their historical values, I argue that the United States, as an Anglophone state, is good acquainted with societal alteration. The civil rights, counter-culture, and LGBT motions, for illustration, have changed the societal flight of our state. Further, although accent is true on single prosperity, by and big, Americans portion the same corporate democratic values. Therefore, I do non believe that the possibility of Anglophone condemnable justness alteration is every bit far-fetched as Pratt and Eriksson would hold us believe, but there are underlying ideological alterations that need to be addressed prior to implementing a Nordic manner condemnable justness system.

Looking back on how the civil rights motion radically changed our societal position on race, it is comprehendible that a new societal position on offense and the intervention of felons could besides go on. Pratt and Eriksson boasted about Nordic condemnable justness success and criticized Anglophone condemnable justness failure without accounting for an of import difference – race. They stated that Nordic states are largely homogeneous and are non every bit multicultural as Anglophone states. If the United States, as it has done in the past, can implement societal alteration sing offense and the intervention of felons, it will hold overcome non merely the historical hurdle that Pratt and Eriksson describe as the Anglophone restriction, but besides a multicultural facet that the Nordic states have non yet experienced. On the one manus, it is barely surprising that a society would hold the same societal point of view when it is historically, culturally, sacredly, and racially the same, as in Nordic states. On the other manus, it is rather surprising that a society would hold the same societal point of view when it is historically, culturally, sacredly, and racially different, as in Anglophone states.

In drumhead, Pratt and Eriksson argued that there is greater societal coherence in Nordic states than in Anglophone states, which reduces the demand for formal control agents such as prisons. They did an first-class occupation exemplifying the difference in penal political orientation between Nordic and Anglophone states, including how captives are treated and what rights they have in each society. However, their survey could hold been strengthened by including testimonies from occupants about their feelings on societal coherence, instead than trusting chiefly on official statistics. Furthermore, their comparing of both societies led them to analyze one more than the other. This became apparent in their favouritism toward Nordic condemnable justness policy, which caused them to except of import comparative information such as race. Their compulsion with Nordic condemnable justness success subtly sent a message to the reader that Anglophone condemnable justness policies are beyond fix, which I attempted to expose by reasoning that Anglophone societies are, in fact, well-suited for societal alteration. Despite these restrictions, Pratt and Eriksson illustrated the success of Nordic condemnable justness policies, supplying a valuable illustration for the hereafter of our ain condemnable justness policies.


Pratt, J. , & A ; Eriksson, A. ( 2012 ) .Contrasts in penalty: An account of Anglophone surplus and Nordic exceptionalism( pp. 8-260 ) . New York, NY: Routledge.