2012 – How the Finns emptied their prisons

Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, Director, National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Finland. MAY 2012  The open prison on the island of Suomenlimma near Helsinki is an astonishing place. The 100 prisoners living there learn stonemasonry and other skills to help keep the 19th century stone fortress intact. They’re paid a wage and the tiny municipality of 400 people voted to have them there. Some of the astonishing facts that confronted members of the Scottish Prisons Commission on a visit in 2008 – after which the Finnish Penal system formed the basis of the Community Payback system recommended by Commission Chair Henry McLeish and adopted by the Scottish Government. Finland had one of the highest prison populations in western Europe until the 1970s. Since then, the imprisonment rate ha...Read More


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