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It is often assumed, especially in Western countries, that the more that a nation lives up to democratic and post-Enlightenment ideals, the better its citizens will be treated by the government. In other words, the more democratic the country, the better respected its citizens. I propose that this correlation extends to how each country treats its prisoners. The question is whether more democracy in a nation's government generally correlates with less punitive prison practices, or even greater attempts at rehabilitation. In this essay, I will compile research and statistics from the Polity IV Project in order to first create a comprehensible list of select nations and how "democratic" their respective governments are. Determining how each country treats its prisoners will be done qualitatively, using data such as reports and independent research to group countries into more widely-defined groups: those that ostensibly aim primarily to rehabilitate prisoners, and those that aim primarily to punish prisoners. These two major datasets can then be compared in order to evaluate any possible correlation between the two. This will be an important step in determining if there is a correlation between democratic government structures and respectful prison practices.



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Governmental Structures and Prison Practices