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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Redefining Standards Downwards:

The Deterioration in Basic Living Conditions in Irish Prisons and the Failure of Policy

The phrase ‘redefining standards’ might be assumed to imply a commitment to higher, more rigorous, standards, along with the more effective enforcement of such standards. In the case of the Irish prison system, however, we have seen over the past two decades alarming examples of where standards have been re-defined downwards, so that, for a majority of those detained in our prisons, basic living conditions have significantly deteriorated and the experience of being in prison has become even more burdensome and damaging.

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Valued members of society?

Social inclusiveness in the characterisation of prisoners in Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Norway

This paper draws on one strand of research that examined
whether the rise in punitiveness in relation to imprisonment that
has taken place in the USA, Britain and Ireland in recent times
can be found in Denmark, Finland or Norway.

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