Penal Populism with Market Populism – Complimentary or Contradictory? Lessons from ‘King’ Ralph and the Alberta Advantage

Mr Luke Oldfield1

1University Of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Progressive politicians have enjoyed only limited success in counteracting the rise of penal populism, themselves often initiating reforms which have increased the number of persons incarcerated. After a decade of more punitive sentencing, Roberts et al. (2002) opined that politicians seeking to lower the rate of incarceration might have greater success if they were to take a more incendiary position on the wastefulness of resources allocated to incarceration, which might go beyond simple referring to cost. This paper returns to that hypothesis, utilising a mixed method approach to test whether a distinct form of market populism might be the antidote to penal populism. It begins by codifying the populist-style politics of former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, whose administration oversaw the rate of incarceration drop by 34% over his first two terms of Government. Survey data then informs both a discussion around the relative strength of populist rhetoric in altering the trajectory of voter attitudes and a critical discussion of the risks in deploying such approaches.


Biography:

Former Officer at Spring Hill Corrections Facility and now a Doctoral Scholar in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Auckland.

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