Similar economic transformations, public opinion patterns, social developments and crime trends have affected most western countries over the past few decades. Punishment trends, however, whether measured in terms of imprisonment rates, average sentence lengths, preferences for or against short or long prison sentences and adoption of various forms of new community penalties vary widely. Why similar economic, social, crime and public opinion trends have such different effects on penal policy is not known. Many explanations for penal policy trends have some explanatory weight for particular countries but few are broadly generalizable.
- normative cycles
- populist punitivism