Comparative Law and Society
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Comparative Law and Society

Edited by David S. Clark

Comparative Law and Society, part of the Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series, is a pioneering volume that comprises 19 original essays written by expert authors from across the world. This innovative handbook offers both a history of the field of comparative law and society and a thorough exploration of its methods, disciplines, and major issues, presenting the most comprehensive look into this contemporary field to date.
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Chapter 3: Comparative Criminology

Francis Pakes


Francis Pakes* 1 1 INTRODUCTION Although occasionally seen to be a fringe endeavour within the field of criminology, it is nevertheless clear that comparative research is an important part of the study of criminology and criminal justice. The term ‘comparative criminology’ at present is associated with a certain type of research that implicitly or explicitly seeks to relate experience from one criminal justice context to another. We can see that through some textbooks (e.g., Dammer and Albanese 2010; Pakes 2010a) and the emergence of a separate comparative criminological methodology (e.g., Pakes 2010b). It is an area with an identifiable body of knowledge and with its own history and stories of success. John Howard (1726–90) carried out notable early comparative work in the area of prisons in the late eighteenth century. He visited many prisons in Great Britain and in mainland Europe and wrote detailed accounts of what he saw. Having been briefly imprisoned himself in northern France, this life experience may well have ignited a humanitarian spark that led to such seminal work. Like many others, Howard’s comparative work had a strong normative component, appalled as he was by his own brief experience of prison life but also because of the poor conditions that he witnessed in Great Britain. Where he saw more favourable conditions, such as in gaols in Belgium and the Netherlands, he used that information in political activity to attempt to replicate such conditions in Great Britain (Howard 1777). Besides Howard’s efforts to persuade a House...

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