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October 31, 2013

"Sentencing and Prison Practices in Germany and the Netherlands: Implications for the United States"

The title of this post is the title of a notable new report from The Vera Institute of Justice available at this link.  Here is a synopsis of the report's coverage via the Vera website:

Germany and the Netherlands have significantly lower incarceration rates than the United States and make much greater use of non-custodial penalties, particularly for nonviolent crimes.  In addition, conditions and practices within correctional facilities in these countries — grounded in the principle of “normalization” whereby life in prison is to resemble as much as possible life in the community — also differ markedly from the U.S.

In February 2013 — as part of the European-American Prison Project funded by the California-based Prison Law Office and managed by Vera — delegations of corrections and justice system leaders from Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania together visited Germany and the Netherlands to tour prison facilities, speak with corrections officials and researchers, and interact with inmates.  Although variations in the definitions of crimes, specific punishments, and recidivism limit the availability of comparable justice statistics, this report describes the considerably different approaches to sentencing and corrections these leaders observed in Europe and the impact this exposure has had (and continues to have) on the policy debate and practices in their home states.  It also explores some of the project’s practical implications for reform efforts throughout the United States to reduce incarceration and improve conditions of confinement while maintaining public safety.

October 31, 2013 at 06:21 PM | Permalink


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Anyone ever visit Germany, even for a few days? Everyone you meet, everywhere you go, you get criticized and told how to do things better, in one's own English. They run a tighter ship than the KGB, and have zero tolerance for any deviation from the rules. As to their oppositions to the death penalty. Funny. Over there they call it, suicide. The Baader Meinhoff gang all died at their own hands, in high security prison, and within hours of each other. Sure.

Anyone marry a wife of German origin, generations removed from the Fatherland? She will work like horse. She is stoic in the face of death of even loved ones.

Now spill something on the floor. Age and arthritis be damned, she dives after it, and will go ballistic, coming close to having to get tied up, foaming at the mouth, in an uncontrollable rage. Does anyone want to live in a nation with that culture, surrounded by people like that?

We are British here, in US jurisprudence (Thank you, God, and I am an atheist), although American culture is very German. Germans are the number one ethnic group, bigger than Hispanics. Take your German examples and sell them to the Marines. Verzieh diech! Nazi Germany is still covered by only a single inch of European veneer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 31, 2013 10:00:16 PM

Hello. I'm a PhD student and research assistant.

I think we should refrain from stereotyping on the basis of nationality. Anecdotal experience of people with German nationality, and of a short time in Germany is hardly going to give an accurate representation of the state of affairs. If we were going to use anecdote, I could describe a number of German people I have known who are nothing like what Supremacy Claus has asserted as the Germanic national identity.

I could take the same tack here and say that all Americans are racist, fat bigots who want a return to slavery so that they can either lord over their plantations raping female slaves, or alternatively take the camp of the damn Yankees and support a free market that makes slaves of the poor but without the unpleasant name.

Oh, and all people from Belgium are boring and eat too much chocolate. And all English people have crooked teeth and use sarcasm to cover their inadequacies, and all Welsh people work in mines and hate the English. And Chinese people have no personalities because they're just workers for the State. And Australians are all loud mouthed sun tanned louts who drink too much.

Why am I arguing a point against someone called 'Supremacy Claus'? Bigotry is a means for a simple mind to reduce a complex world to a point of understanding.

Comparing the sentencing policies of different jurisdictions can contribute to improved policy making in a search for justice and equality in the criminal justice process. That's the point we need to focus on, not typecasting German people. Or anyone else.

Posted by: Lucy | Jan 8, 2014 6:58:25 PM

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