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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
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London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

Cross-National Measures of Punitiveness and their Explanation: Taiwan, and England/Wales

With Professor Susyan Jou (National Taipei University)

Series: Seminar on Taiwan in Comparative Perspective, special series on Justice in Comparative Perspective

Date: Thursday 7 August 2008, 4pm-5:30pm

Venue: Seligman Library (Room A607), Old Building, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Mr Stuart Thompson (Taiwan Research Programme)

The speaker was Visiting Taiwan Fellow at the LSE in summer 2008


Societies vary substantially in the severity of the penalties they impose for various kinds of crime and criminals, but it is not obvious by what metric to make such comparisons. Most such claims rely upon cross-national comparisons of the average number of people held in prison per 100,000 of the population, but arguably equally valid measures include the number of people in prison per 100,000 offenders, average lengths of prison sentences, average lengths of time actually served, certainty of punishment and probability of imprisonment and so on. Results are likely to vary considerably depending on which measure is used. This study argues for a more sensitive and imaginative use of available comparative data - and develops this in the context of a case-study of Taiwan and England and Wales. Area differences in prison use have attracted a range of explanations - from the notion that prison capacity drives use, to the role of unemployment and wider questions of political economy; this study also seeks to develop analysis with a focus on the local and cultural factors that may be at play in driving punitiveness.

About the speaker

Professor Susyan Jou is Professor of Criminology at the National Taipei University, Taiwan and the chief editor of the Chinese-language peer-reviewed journal Crime and Criminal Justice International. She is also an executive counsellor in the Chinese Criminology Association, and a member of the Youth Council Committee of the Administrative Yuan, and of the Juvenile Corrections Re-appealing Committee at the ROC Ministry of Justice. Her research interests are juvenile delinquency, occupational crime, criminological theory, and comparative criminology, and her book length publications include Comparative Research in Crime and Punishment (coauthored with Bill Hebenton, forthcoming 2008, Palgrave-Macmillan, in English), Criminologogical Theory and Its Measurement (with Cao Liqun, 2007, in Chinese), Juvenile Delinquency (2004, in Chinese), and Crime and its Control in a Changing Society (1997, in Chinese).