Order Criminal Justice System Questions
Compare the U.S. criminal justice system with the Finnish system. What the major similarities and differences? Which one seems the most efficient at controlling crime and why?
Compare the U.S. criminal justice system with the Finnish system using first a structural-functional perspective, then a conflict perspective. [It’s not correct to say that functionalism applies only to one country, and conflict theory applies only to another. Both theories apply to both countries, perhaps in opposite ways. Explain how each theory applies to both countries.]
Using three sociological concepts (key terms) relating to social structure (Chapter 5), examine why European countries have such lower crime rates compared to the United States.
Caught Red-Handed? Let It Be in Finland Warren Hoge. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Jan 2, 2003. pg. A.1
Copyright New York Times Company Jan 2, 2003
Going by the numbers, Antti Syvajarvi is a loser. He is a prison inmate in Finland — the country that jails fewer of its citizens than any other in the European Union.
Still, he counts himself fortunate.
”If I have to be a prisoner,” he said, ”I’m happy I’m one in Finland because I trust the Finnish system.”
So, evidently, do law-abiding Finns, even though their system is Europe’s most lenient and would probably be the object of soft-on-criminals derision in many societies outside of the Nordic countries.
In polls measuring what national institutions they admire the most, Finns put their criminal-coddling police in the No. 1 position.
The force is the smallest in per capita terms in Europe, but it has a corruption-free reputation and it solves 90 percent of its serious crimes.
”I know this system sounds like a curiosity,” said Markku Salminen, a former beat patrolman and homicide detective who is now the director general of the prison service in charge of punishments. ”But if you visit our prisons and walk our streets, you will see that this very mild version of law enforcement works. I don’t blame other countries for having harsher systems because they have different histories and politics, but this model works for us.”
Finland, a relatively classless culture with a Scandinavian belief in the benevolence of the state and a trust in its civic institutions, is something of a laboratory for gentle justice. The kinds of economic and social disparities that can produce violence don’t exist in Finland’s welfare state society, street crime is low, and law enforcement officials can count on support from an uncynical public.
Look in on Finland’s penal institutions, whether those the system categorizes as ”open” or ”closed,” and it is hard to tell when you’ve entered the world of custody. ”This is a closed prison,” Esko Aaltonen, warden of the Hameenlinna penitentiary, said in welcoming a visitor. ”But you may have noticed you just drove in, and there was no gate blocking you.”
Walls and fences have been removed in favor of unobtrusive camera surveillance and electronic alert networks. Instead of clanging iron gates, metal passageways and grim cells, there are linoleum-floored hallways lined with living spaces for inmates that resemble dormitory rooms more than lockups in a slammer.
Guards are unarmed and wear either civilian clothes or uniforms free of emblems like chevrons and epaulettes. ”There are 10 guns in this prison, and they are all in my safe,” Mr. Aaltonen said.
”The only time I take them out is for transfer of prisoners.”
At the ”open” prisons, inmates and guards address each other by first name. Prison superintendents go by nonmilitary titles like manager or governor, and prisoners are sometimes referred to as ”clients” or, if they are youths, ”pupils.”
”We are parents, that’s what we are,” said Kirsti Njeminen, gov
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