Welfare and punishment. The relationship between welfare spending and imprisonment

Professor David Downes and Dr Kirstine Hansen
Saturday, 17 November 2007

Professor David Downes and Dr Kirstine Hansen present a brief outline of findings from their research, which explores the relationship between welfare expenditure and levels of punishment.

They begin by examining research on welfare spending and imprisonment rates across US states and replicate this work using data from 18 countries, including the United Kingdom. The results show that welfare provision relates significantly to penal policy and practice, as measured by the scale of imprisonment, and indicate that welfare cutbacks imply penal expansionism.