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Punishment in Europe. A Critical Anatomy of Penal Systems.

The collection (eds. Ruggiero, V. and Ryan, M., London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) brings together leading international scholars and practitioners to provide a critical guide to penal systems across Europe. Through its exploration of twelve different Western and Eastern European countries, it identifies the national particularities and the commonalities between penal systems, such as the overuse of imprisonment and the harsher sanctions against the poor when breaking the law.

In his chapter Dr. Gounev, senior analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, argues that the penal process in Bulgaria is not the result of a penal policy but rather a set of practices that serve the interests of various groups – from economic power players to magistrates. The penal culture, that is largely a legacy of the communist era, partially explains the lack of alternatives to custody, as well as the lack of reformatory or post-custodial programmes. Corruption, lack of long-term vision, and lack of resources are to blame for the sorry state of the Bulgarian prisons and the penal system.

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