Homicide and Punishment in Europe: Examining National Variation

  • Michael C. CampbellEmail author


This chapter examines punishment for homicide in Europe by analyzing statistical data on how various nations sanction homicide offenders. It presents a general survey of existing data on the complex and varied ways that European nations punish these serious offenders, revealing considerable variation across the continent. Officially, most European nations retain very long periods of incarceration, usually life imprisonment, as the sanction for the most serious homicide infractions. But in practice, few offenders are ever prosecuted and sentenced under the law’s most serious infraction. Instead, many European homicide offenders are sentenced for 10–20 years, and rarely serve full terms due to a variety of penal and administrative processes that mitigate incarceration during the punishment phase. This is less the case in English speaking nations and in Eastern European countries. The United Kingdom and the Russian Federation impose long prison sentences on many homicide offenders, and are increasingly turning to life sentences. Although data limitations severely limit any comprehensive assessment of punishment for homicide in Europe, this chapter helps sketch general trends, and raises questions about how to explain the considerable differences found across the continent.


Incarceration Rate Political Culture Homicide Rate European Nation Harsh Punishment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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