Comments on Mathiesen’s ‘Ten reasons . . .’
in Incarceration and human rights
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Thomas Mathiesen is one of the world's foremost criminologists. Along with his Norwegian compatriot, Nils Christie, he has become over the past forty years a towering figure in thinking about crime and punishment. Mathiesen has spelt out the basic arguments. It is possible to agree with every single argument Mathiesen makes about the futility and damaging consequences of imprisonment and still disagree with his recommended moratorium. He correctly argues that a key part of the case for imprisonment rests on the fallacy that crime rates fall as a deterrent consequence of tougher custodial sentencing. Several major societies have stable or only moderately increased levels of imprisonment, notably Canada, Germany, France, the Nordic countries and Belgium. Lifetime earnings have been so depleted that imprisonment alone has significantly increased inequality along lines of colour as well as class.

Incarceration and human rights

The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2007


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