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The Finnish Culture of Correction. Kris Clarke, Ph.D California State University, Fresno/Social Work Education. Finland: population and tradition. Population: 5.2 million (less than 3% of foreign background) , largely Lutheran faith Social democracy Not wide societal inequalities

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The finnish culture of correction

The Finnish Culture of Correction

Kris Clarke, Ph.D

California State University, Fresno/Social Work Education


Finland population and tradition
Finland: population and tradition

  • Population: 5.2 million (less than 3% of foreign background) , largely Lutheran faith

  • Social democracy

  • Not wide societal inequalities

  • Relatively high standard of living

  • Universal social and health care services


The finnish welfare state
The Finnish Welfare State

  • Based on the notion that citizens are not solely autonomous individuals, but members of the national community.

  • Values of the welfare state: solidarity, inclusion, and the common good.

  • Nordic welfare state: cultural constructions of social and community values as well as the policies and practices to define and implement them

  • A social compromise among groups competing for position and resources:a ‘people’s home’ for all citizens.


Sentencing reform
Sentencing reform

  • From 1889 to 1960s, Finnish sentencing laws and penal code were virtually unchanged and highly punitive. (Houseman )

  • In 1972, complete reform of the penal code and sentencing. Focus on rehabilitation, proportionality and predictability.

  • Ultimate aim: prevention rather than deterrence.

  • Changes resulted in a 40% reduction in incarceration rates, though crime rates have been relatively steady.

  • 1992 study showed that half of prisoners were recidivists, but majority of those in prison for the first time did not return (Finnish Criminal Sanctions Agency).


Sentencing 2006 statistics
Sentencing (2006 statistics)

  • Fines: approximately half of all penalties (based on the daily wage of offender)

  • Conditional imprisonment: nearly one-quarter (usually served by probation, revoked if individual re-offends)

  • Community service: 5% (offender must be motivated, give consent, and assessed as suitable)

  • Unconditional imprisonment: 12% (must serve in prison)


Some principles of incarceration
Some principles of incarceration

  • Normalization: prisoners are deprived of liberty but not loss of civil liberties (right to vote), reading materials, punitive diets, etc.

  • Openness: opportunities for visits, (sometimes) for women to have young children with them, to study, etc.


Youth
Youth

  • There is no separate juvenile justice system

  • Youth under the age of 15 cannot be held criminally responsible: they fall under the supervision of the social and health care system

  • Offenders between 17-21 years often receive parole and are placed under the supervision of the probation service

  • The social welfare system is seen as having better skills to provide rehabilitation to youth than the criminal justice system

  • Conditional Sentencing Act (1989): conditional sentences are for youth only in extraordinary circumstances

  • Rates of youth incarceration were ten times lower in the 1990s than 1960s


Mediation
Mediation

  • Became prominent as a restorative justice measure in the 1980s

  • Not formally integrated into criminal justice system: is only used if all parties agree

  • In violent crime cases, mediation does not affect sentencing


Role of social work
Role of social work

  • Social work is important in the criminal justice system

  • Prisons have psychologists, social workers, family social workers, and study advisors on staff

  • Social work also plays a prominent role with youth and in aftercare plans for those released

  • Goal of correctional system is prevention and support


Challenges
Challenges

  • Little research on how the children of the incarcerated are faring

  • Increasing numbers of immigrants/foreigners in prison: how to meet their needs

  • Retrenchment of the welfare state has brought cuts to mental health services: what is the impact on prevention?


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