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Comparative Penology

Institute of Criminology

Studying at Cambridge


Conferences & Events


Punishment and imprisonment in the Nordic Countries Conference

On June 13th-14th, we are hosting a conference at the University of Agder, Norway with the general theme ‘Punishment and imprisonment in the Nordic countries’. Researchers with expertise on prisons and punishment in the Nordic countries will present their analysis while our team will be discussing the emerging findings from our comparative study of penal policy-making and prisoner experiences in England & Wales and Norway. Information about how to attend will be coming soon!



Comparative Penology and Nordic Exceptionalism Conference

We were pleased to hold our first COMPEN conference at the University of Cambridge on the 1st and 2nd of February 2018. 

This conference was a milestone for the project with its international and comparative focus and also offered the opportunity to meet many other experts in the field.  


Deep-end Confinement Symposium

In January 2018, we hosted a one-day symposium about ‘deep-end confinement’, with papers by Georgina Vince and Kirsty Tempest (HMPPS), Ben Crewe (University of Cambridge), Richard Sparks University of Edinburgh) and Alison Liebling (University of Cambridge), and Kimmett Edgar (Prison Reform Trust). The aim of the day was to generate dialogue between practitioners and academics working within this field, and to provide a platform for further engagement.



Ben Crewe will be talking on a panel with Keramet Reiter and Sharon Shalev, which is titled 'Solitary, supermax and deep-end imprisonment' at the European Society of Criminology conference, 13-16 September 2017, Cardiff University, on 'Depth, Extremity and Intensity at the Terminus of the Prison System' (abstract here).

Kristian Mjåland, Julie Laursen, Anna Schliehe and Alice Ievins will also be speaking at the European Society of Criminology conference in September. The title of Julie and Kristian's paper is 'The ‘imprisonment queue’ in Norway: Exploring the pains of waiting to do time' (abstract here).

The title of Kristian, Anna and Julie's paper is ‘The pains of entry’: A comparative analysis of prisoners’ experiences of entering custody in England & Wales and Norway' (abstract here).

Alice will be talking on a panel with Kate Gooch and David Sheldon, which is titled 'Sex Offenders in prison'. The title of Alice's paper is 'Orientations towards women among male prisoners convicted of sex offences' (abstract here).

Ben gave a paper at the Rethinking Prisons Research conference, 13-14 June 2017, University of Leicester, on 'The prison as a reinventive institution'.

Anna presented on the project at the Annual American Association of Geographers International conference, 5-9 April 2017, Boston, USA, on 'Dialogues across carceral space: comparative research and the case of penal exceptionalism in a session on Global Carceral Geographies' (abstract here).


Anna Schliehe and Julie Laursen gave a talk at the inaugural international conference for Carceral Geography, 13 December 2016, University of Birmingham, on 'Confinement, Crossings and Conditions for prisoners in the UK and Norway: comparative research on penal exceptionalism'. You can listen to their presentation here.


logo The Comparative Penology Group is led by Dr Ben Crewe and his research team who, since 2016, have been working on a five-year project titled: 'Penal policymaking and the prisoner experience: a comparative analysis'.

The research is based in England & Wales, and Norway, and involves four inter-related studies of (a) penal policymaking and the penal field (b) the experience of entry into and release from custody (c) the daily experiences of female prisoners and imprisoned sex offenders, and (d) prisoners in the most secure parts of each jurisdiction's prison system.

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).