Erika YeagerFollow


Political Science


Doerner, Jill, K

Advisor Department

Sociology and Anthropology




criminal justice; incarceration; international; social; economic; political; cultural


Historically, the concepts of criminal justice and punishment have been core facets of many societies and cultures. The evolution of crime and punishment is unique in different places across the world and across cultures. The incarceration of individuals across the globe has turned into an epidemic; according to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, there are almost 10.4 million individuals imprisoned around the world (“Global Prison Trends” 7). By researching this political and sociological phenomenon, more insight is gained into the tangible impacts systemic models of criminal justice have on societies and countries as a whole. These individualized systems and methods of dealing with criminals, courts, and rehabilitation/punishment vary throughout the globe, and this study hones in on seven of those countries: the United States, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, China, Thailand, and South Africa.

The United States tends to seek knowledge and growth through an incredibly ethnocentric lens, comparing incarceration statistics between states and focusing on trends within our own borders. However, when a global perspective is sought, we can collectively learn about how to move forward with positively changing criminal justice systems to be successful, effective, and influential. Through extensive and in-depth research and data analysis, I have analyzed how these seven countries rank amongst one another in terms of effective criminal justice systems. In this study, effectiveness is measured by how the criminal justice systems influence the social, economic, political, and cultural climates of a country (positively or negatively). Using history, evolution of prison systems, statistics, and comparative analysis, I was able to combine different ideals into a comprehensive study that connects criminal justice systems to extremely relevant causal factors and mechanisms. Not only did this allow countries and their systemic models to be compared, but this knowledge works to answer why different countries choose to emphasize restorative versus punitive justice and vice versa.