Bordered penal populism: When populism and Scandinavian exceptionalism meet

John Todd-Kvam
  • Punishment & Society, February 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1462474518757093

How penal populism in Norway is directed at non-citizens

What is it about?

This article shows how politicians from the two governing parties in Norway (the centre-right Conservative Party and populist-right Progress Party) talk about non-citizens who commit crime. Representatives from both parties, including the Justice Minister, frame foreign criminals as unwanted, requiring swift justice and in need of deportation. They also make clear their view that foreign citizens in Norwegian prisons do not require rehabilitation or the same level of services as Norwegian inmates, since they will be deported at the end of their sentence.

Why is it important?

This article is important because it shows how penal populism is becoming invreasingly bordered in Norway, in that non-citizens are framed as deserving both more punishment (in the form of both imprisonment and deportation) and less rehabilitation. In addition, the government's overwhelming focus on this particular group of offenders means that there is a passive erosion of the rehabilitative approach underway. This erosion is caused both by a lack of political emphasis on issues of rehabilitation and change, and a lack of resources stemming from year-on-year budget cuts.


John Todd (Author)
Universitetet i Oslo

I hope that this article helps those interested in both penal populism and Scandinavian exceptionalism see how these two phenomena are developing in Norway today.

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