† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
The Universal Pains of Prison
Editors note by nancy a heitzeg
The following is an excerpt of an Honors Project, completed by a graduating Senior at St. Catherine University. It has been my privilege to serve as adviser to this project, which offers a comparative look at two dramatically different prison systems and philosophies, that of Denmark and the U. S.
Despite the stark contrasts documented throughout the project, this excerpt notes the common barriers faced in in re-integration, even when one has been incarcerated in a rehabilitative system. Yes, conditions are better, imprisonment more rare, but the stigma consistent, and the social barriers universal.
There are better models that we can look to for “reform”, but, in the end, we are always called – in every possible way – towards Abolition.
Difference in Prison Philosophies: The Danish Prison System vs. the U.S. Prison System
by Bridget Ferrell
“To present my honors project, I created a 30 minute podcast. This podcast is a recording of the interviews I conducted in Denmark and the US for my honors project. The goals for my podcast were to:
- First, allow the voices of my interviews be heard by the community.
- Second, to understand the prison experience and how that influences inmates experience back into society.
- Third, to propose recommendations for how the system can better help law-breaking citizens become law-abiding citizens.
In my podcast I present my findings. I found that although Danish inmates have the same rights as everyone else in the Danish society, the formal and informal punishments were similar to the US. There was social stigmatization that caused an incredible issue for inmates reintegrating back into society. My podcast also presents my interviewers recommendations. The Sister who volunteers at the Waseca Federal Prison recommended shorter prison sentences. The Danish prison guard recommended more effort between the government and society to socialize inmates. The Danish ex-inmate proposed more education, more teachers in the prison and for offenders to meet their victims.”