This book draws on historical and cross-disciplinary studies to critically examine penal practices in Scandinavia. The Nordic countries are often hailed by international observers as 'model societies', with egalitarian welfare policies, low rates of poverty, humane social policies and human rights oriented internal agendas. This book, however, paints a much more nuanced picture of the welfare policies, ideologies and social control in strong centralistic states. Based on extensive new empirical data, leading Nordic and international scholars discuss the relationship between prison conditions in Scandinavia and Scandinavian social policy more generally, and argue that it is not always liberating and constructive to be embraced by a powerful welfare state. This book is essential reading for researchers of state punishment in Scandinavia, and it is highly relevant for anyone interested in the 'Nordic Model' of social policy.