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Regulating the Prison Population: Experiences from a Long-term Policy in Finland by Tapio Lappi-Seppälä

18th March 1998

At the beginning of the 1950s, the prison rate in Finland was four times higher than in other Scandinavian countries. Finland's incarceration rate was some 200 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants, while the figures in Sweden, Denmark and Norway were around 50. Even during the 1970s, Finland's prisoner rate continued to be among the highest in Europe.

However, a decrease that started already after the Second World War has been steadily continuing. And slowly - without dramatic changes - Finland has reached the Scandinavian level.

What changed the situation? Why did the Finnish numbers go downwards, while at same time most European countries were experiencing rising prisoner populations?

Presentation delivered at the Beyond Prisons International Symposium (March 15-18, 1998, Kingston, Ontario) sponsored by the Correctional Service of Canada.

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