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Nils Christie, Norwegian Academic and Leading Light of Prison Abolitionist Thought, Dies at 87

Prison Photography

nils

“We cannot build up a system of sanction on supposed danger, in my view.”

Nils Christie.

IN MEMORIAM

Nils Christie, Norwegian sociologist and criminologist, died Wednesday May 27th at the age of 87.

Christie’s great achievement was to detach discussion of prisons solely from discussions of crime and to afix them firmly to conversation about economic inequality and the definitions of behaviour we attach hastily to those outside of our social class.

Christie ushered in the modern prison abolition movement. Activist group Critical Resistance writes:

“Christie challenged the accepted notions of crime and the legitimacy of imprisonment throughout his career. Along with Thomas Mathiesen and Louk Hulsman, Christie was at the forefront of a tendency of European social scientists that pushed prison abolition into mainstream conversation.”

In this very accessible Q&A, Christie explains that someone stealing money or threatening violence inside or outside the family is…

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