Finnish Penal Policy

Finnish Penal Policy
Nordic Horizons


Humza Yousaf MSP, the host introduced  Dr Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, Director, National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Finland. 


Finland had one of the highest prison populations in western Europe until the 1970s. Since then, the imprisonment rate has fallen to the low Nordic average but crime rates have stayed the same. Today, Finland has 59 prisoners per 100,000 of population; Scotland has 153. Finnish reform began when academics in the 60s argued criminal policy should be part of social policy, with employment and educational opportunities, and they also pointed out there was no evidence of a link between long prison sentences and less crime.  Politicians legislated to turn prison sentences into community alternatives. The Scottish Prisons Commission modelled Scotland’s community payback orders on the Finnish experience, but prison numbers here are still high. Can Finnish expertise offer new insights to reduce Scotland’s high prison population?  


Dr Lappi-Seppälä explained how Finland moved from a punitive, prison-based model of justice, to one where community options and rehabilitation were prioritised. The meeting was chaired by Lesley Riddoch, a member of the Scottish Prisons Commission. 


The recording, below, is the full presentation includes introductions from Humza Yousaf, Lesley Riddoch, and a response from Lewis Macdonald MSP. This audio recording is just over 1 hour long and doesn’t include the question and answer session. ( Tapio starts speaking about 7 minutes in ) 


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