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Generations of Penality: On Prison, Immigration Detention and Their Intersections

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Incarceration and Generation, Volume I

Abstract

The gradual emergence of an immigration enforcement system has apparently given rise to a sort of ‘generational’ transition in the European penal field. This phenomenon has significantly changed the contours of penality, not least by creating a new confinement apparatus—that of immigration detention—to be added to the prison system. This chapter explores the multi-faceted nexus linking prison and immigration detention across European jurisdictions. Initially, it examines the ‘laboratory’ thesis claiming that immigration enforcement practices are operating as a testing ground to develop new punitive rationales to be subsequently spread across the penal field writ large. Subsequently, it analyses the ‘transcarceration’ thesis arguing that the increasing momentum gained by immigration enforcement strategies is actually enabling the prison decline witnessed in many global north jurisdictions over the last decade. Drawing on these reflections, the chapter concludes by outlining the various dimensions of the penal transition increasingly interweaving prison and immigration detention practices.

Both scholars have co-authored this chapter in its entirety. José A. Brandariz, though, has centred his efforts on drawing up sections 1 and 2. Cristina Fernández-Bessa, in turn, has led the elaboration of sections 3 and 4.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Likewise, wide encompassing deportation practices are also a recent penal phenomenon (Anderson et al., 2013; Gibney, 2008).

  2. 2.

    Specifically, data have been largely retrieved from databases of the European Union (Eurostat), the Council of Europe (SPACE 1 report: http://www.wp.unil.ch/space/space-i/annual-reports/; accessed 19 January 2021), the US Department of Homeland Security—hereinafter, DHS—(DHS. Immigration statistics:http://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/enforcement-actions; accessed 9 November 2020), the UNODC (UNODC. Prison data: http://www.dataunodc.un.org/data/prison/persons%20held%20total; accessed 18 January 2021) and the Global Detention Project—hereinafter GDP—(http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/regions-subregions/europe; accessed 13 January 2021).

  3. 3.

    In fact, two of the top five Council of Europe member states in terms of average length of imprisonment in 2018 were Southern European countries, i.e. Portugal (31.7 months) and Spain (20.6 months) (Source: Aebi & Tiago, 2020).

  4. 4.

    This list also includes the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovenia when only the prison on remand population is considered (Source: Aebi & Tiago, 2020).

  5. 5.

    Both Estonia and Latvia have seen their incarceration rates dwindle by more than 30 per cent from 2008 to 2019 (Sources: Aebi & Tiago, 2018, 2020).

  6. 6.

    Estonia and Latvia have respectively averaged 475 and 1,173 deportations per year from 2008 to 2019 (Source: Eurostat. Asylum and managed migration data).

  7. 7.

    The only national exception is Bulgaria. The Bulgarian border control system apparently reacted to the so-called ‘migration crisis’ of the mid-2010s (Siegel & Nagy, 2018) by significantly expanding the scope of its immigration detention apparatus. Still, the number of detained noncitizens seems to have remarkably declined in the last few years (Sources: GDP; Majcher et al., 2020d).

  8. 8.

    Luxembourg is the only exception in this regard, for reasons related to the relatively small size of both its resident population and its state control systems. Luxembourg averaged 445 enforced deportations per year from 2009 to 2019 (Source: Eurostat. Asylum and managed migration data).

  9. 9.

    The average number of deportations enforced per year in Sweden from 2008 to 2013 was 13,261, subsequently dwindling to 9,830 from 2014 to 2019. In the Spanish case the decline was even more marked, diminishing from 23,351 deportations annually enforced from 2008 to 2013 to 12,394 from 2014 to 2019 (Source: Eurostat. Asylum and managed migration data).

  10. 10.

    In Germany, on average 14,533 individuals were forcefully returned per year from 2008 to 2013, whilst that indicator soared to 43,436 deportations annually enforced from 2014 to 2019. Finland shows a less marked upward trend, from 2,337 deportations annually carried out in the first half of this period (2008–2013) to 3,890 in the second half (2014–2019) (Source: Eurostat. Asylum and managed migration data).

  11. 11.

    Stock data in 2017 and flow data in 2016 are missing in these SPACE I annual reports.

  12. 12.

    These prison admission data are slightly underestimated because certain national data are missing in specific years.

  13. 13.

    A more precise estimation is currently unfeasible, for GDP data do not provide information on a number of national immigration detention systems.

  14. 14.

    Eurostat data show that the only European jurisdictions enforcing the vast majority of issued deportation orders are the UK, Poland, and the three Baltic nations—for different reasons.

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Correspondence to Cristina Fernández-Bessa .

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Fernández-Bessa, C., Brandariz, J.A. (2021). Generations of Penality: On Prison, Immigration Detention and Their Intersections. In: Gomes, S., de Carvalho, M.J.L., Duarte, V. (eds) Incarceration and Generation, Volume I. Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-82265-1_2

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