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Countering Punitiveness: Understanding Stability in Canada's Imprisonment Rate

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Abstract:

Canada's imprisonment rate has not changed appreciably since 1960. This stability contrasts with the increased imprisonment rates experienced by Canada's most obvious comparators—the United States and England and Wales. We examine this divergence and propose several interrelated explanations for Canada's anomalous pattern. While Canada is shown not to be immune to pressure for harsher practices and policies, it has been able to counter or balance these trends with other more moderating forces. In particular, we suggest that Canadians have largely been able to escape several of the wider forces or “risk factors” at the root of higher incarceration in other countries. Further, we suggest that certain protective factors of a historical, cultural, and structural nature can also be identified that have limited the extent to which Canada has adopted the same punitive policies documented in the United States and England and Wales.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2006.00266.x

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto 2: Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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