Current criminological research is particularly interested in the question whether or not we are witnessing a punitive turn and it seems that Western democracies today punish differently than a few decades ago. The ‘new punitiveness’ literature (Pratt, et. al., 2005) and David Garland’s (2001) study on the culture of control have fuelled an ongoing debate and research on this question. There are however many ways to compare penal practices and measure punitiveness. Leading comparative research by Cavadino & Dignan (2006) for example relates variations in incarceration rates to contrasting kinds of political economy.
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