What’s the Difference between Ireland and Iceland? One Letter and a Decent Prison System …*

This paper identifies aspects of the prison system in Iceland that offer
positive models for Ireland. Although Iceland experienced a similar financial crash to Ireland, Iceland’s penal policies remain very much in tune with Nordic approaches, which have largely resisted the punitive impulses evident in English-speaking countries.

Comparisons between the prison systems of Ireland and Iceland reveal a much lower rate of incarceration, and more socially inclusive attitudes, in the latter. The paper examines, in particular, prison regimes in each country; on most criteria, conditions and the manner of treating people in prison in Iceland are seen to be significantly better than in Ireland. The thinking behind the different policies and practices is explored: concepts such as ‘dynamic security’, ‘balancing care and custody’ and ‘normalisation’ have much greater currency in the prison system of Iceland than in that of Ireland.

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A Critique of the Prison Reentry Discourse: Futurity, Presence, and Commonsense

This study raises basic questions about reentry programs in the United
States and the discourses of reentry that currently frame policy, research,
and programs. We compare Nordic discourses with those in the United
States and illustrate how the latter curtail a more complex understanding
of the presence of loved ones in the life of an incarcerated father. We
found that U.S. reentry discourses in general are future-oriented and
convey hopelessness about the capacity of loved ones separated by prison
to be positively present—physically and imaginatively—to each other. We
conclude the study with implications for a humanizing curriculum.

Muth et al, Prison Journal, 2016

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