Peter Scharff Smith

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Peter Scharff Smith holds a Master’s degree in social science and history from Roskilde University (1998). Peters early research focused on Danish collaboration during World War II and he co-authored his first two research monographs while still a student, including the bestseller “Under hagekors og Dannebrog. Danskere i Waffen-SS 1940-45” (1998). After this Peters work became more cross-disciplinary and his PhD. was on prison history and the rise of the modern penitentiary. He became a PhD in 2002 at the University of Copenhagen. His thesis “Moralske hospitaler. Det moderne fængselsvæsens gennembrud 1770-1870” was published in 2003. Since 2003 Peters research has primarily lied within the fields of criminology, sociology of law and history. Peter has throughout his career been doing research at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the University of Copenhagen, Cambridge University, New York University, The Danish National Archive, Roskilde University, The Royal Danish Defense College and Oslo University. Peter has also worked as Research Director at The Danish Institute for Human Rights. He’s articles has been published in, for example, Crime and Justice, Punishment and Society, and Criminal Justice and Behavior as well as in a wide range of other Scandinavian and international journals.

His research monographs and edited collections has been published by Oxford University Press, Palgrave Macmillan, Brill, Gyldendal and several other publishers. Peter’s latest books are “Prisons, Punishment, and the Family: Towards a New Sociology of Punishment?” (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018. Co-edited with Rachel Condry) and “Scandinavian Penal History, Culture and Prison Practice: Embraced By the Welfare State?” (Palgrave Macmillan 2017. Co-edited with Thomas Ugelvik).

Academic interests

Peters research falls within four broad thematic clusters:

  • Punishment and prisons – history, principles and practices.
  • The human rights system – its practices, principles and normative framework
  • The criminal justice system and the relatives of offenders
  • War crimes and the Holocaust

Some of the focal areas within the first two fields of research has been the use and effects of solitary confinement in prisons, remand imprisonment, prisons and human rights, as well as torture prevention and monitoring places of detention. A focal area within the third field of research has been children of imprisoned parents – their situation, problems, and rights. Focal areas within the fourth field of research has been the Waffen-SS, perpetrators, techniques of ‘Othering’ and the Nazi war of extermination at the Eastern front.

Peter also has extensive experience working systematically and methodologically with a combination of research, project work, dialogue, partnerships, awareness raising, and advocacy in an attempt to create concrete prison reforms in Scandinavia and internationally. He has, for example, worked with practical reform projects in Danish prisons, on the promotion of alternatives to solitary confinement practices internationally, and on the creation and promotion of soft-law prison standards in the international human rights community.


Awards, other qualifications and appointments

  • Award winner at the Danish Labour History Awards 1994 together with a group of fellow students.
  • Awarded the Carlsberg Clare Hall Visiting Fellowship at Cambridge University by the Carlsberg Foundation 2003.
  • International Human Rights Course, Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2004.
  • International course in Prevention of Torture, OHCHR, Oxford University, 2006.
  • Leadership and management training, Ankerhus, 2008-2009.
  • Member of various project steering committees in the Danish Prison Service

Research Networks

Co-founder of the Scandinavian Studies of Confinement network.


  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Curing Criminal Thoughts: from Religious Conversion to Cognitive Therapy in Prison, In Tyge Krogh; Sofie Lene Bak & Claus Bundgård Christensen (ed.),  Cultural Histories of Crime in Denmark, 1500 to 2000.  Routledge.  ISBN 978-1-138-04851-5.  Kapitel 15.  s 255 - 272
  • Lomell, Heidi Mork & Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Rettssosiologi, I: Andreas Føllesdal; Morten Ruud & Geir Ulfstein (red.),  Menneskerettighetene og Norge: Rettsutvikling, rettsliggjøring og demokrati.  Universitetsforlaget.  ISBN 978-82-15-02212-3.  7.  s 190 - 211
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Punishment Without Conviction? Scandinavian Pre-trial Practices and the Power of the Benevolent State, In Peter Scharff Smith & Thomas Ugelvik (ed.),  Scandinavian Penal History, Culture and Prison Practice: Embraced By the Welfare State?.  Palgrave Macmillan.  ISBN 978-1-137-58528-8.  Chapter 6.  s 129 - 156
  • Smith, Peter Scharff; Christensen, Claus Bundgård & Poulsen, Niels Bo (2017). Germanic volunteers from northern Europe, In Jochen Böhler & Robert Gerwarth (ed.),  The Waffen-SS. A European History.  Oxford University Press.  ISBN 978-0-19-879055-6.  3.  s 42 - 75
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Minke, Linda (2017). Trusler og vold i danske fængsler og arresthuse, I: Linda Minke (red.),  KRIM. 50 års kriminalpolitik. Resultater og visioner.  Forlag1.  ISBN 9788792841551.  Kapitel 15.  s 232 - 266
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Ugelvik, Thomas (2017). Introduction: Punishment, Welfare and Prison History in Scandinavia, In Peter Scharff Smith & Thomas Ugelvik (ed.),  Scandinavian Penal History, Culture and Prison Practice: Embraced By the Welfare State?.  Palgrave Macmillan.  ISBN 978-1-137-58528-8.  kapittel 1.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Ugelvik, Thomas (2017). Punishment and Welfare in Scandinavia, In Peter Scharff Smith & Thomas Ugelvik (ed.),  Scandinavian Penal History, Culture and Prison Practice: Embraced By the Welfare State?.  Palgrave Macmillan.  ISBN 978-1-137-58528-8.  kapittel 21.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2016). Dehumanisation, social contact and techniques of Othering: Combining the lessons from Holocaust studies and prison research, In Anna Eriksson (ed.),  Punishing the Other: The Social Production of Immorality Revisited.  Routledge.  ISBN 978-1-138-77694-4.  Chapter 1.  s 11 - 29
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2016). Prisons and Human Rights: Past, Present and Future Challenges, In Leanne Weber; Elaine Fishwick & Marinella Marmo (ed.),  The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights.  Routledge.  ISBN 978-1-138-93117-6.  Kapitel 49.  s 525 - 535
  • Smith, Peter Scharff; Christensen, Claus Bundgård & Poulsen, Niels Bo (2016). Samtaler om vold. Oral History med forhenværende Waffen-SS soldater, I: Sofie Lene Bak (red.),  Oral History i Danmark.  Syddansk Universitetsforlag.  ISBN 978-87-7674-239-3.  kapitel 3.  s 35 - 62
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Jørgensen, Rikke Frank (2016). Fængslet og den digitale kløft − Frihedsberøvelse, internetadgang og menneskerettigheder. EU-ret & Menneskeret.  ISSN 1395-220X.  23(2)
  • Smith, Peter Scharff; Poulsen, Niels Bo & Christensen, Claus Bundgård (2016). Fra videnskab til mindekultur og reenactment: Historiebrugen om danskere i tysk krigstjeneste, I: Sofie Lene Bak (red.),  “Kildekunst”: Historiske & kulturhistoriske studier. Festskrift til John T. Lauridsen.  Museum Tusculanums Forlag.  ISBN 978-87-635-4546-4.  kapitel.  s 539 - 565

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  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Jakobsen, Janne (2017). Varetægtsfængsling. Danmarks hårdeste straf?. Jurist- og Økonomforbundets Forlag.  ISBN 978-87-574-3457-6.  220 s.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Ugelvik, Thomas (ed.) (2017). Scandinavian Penal History, Culture and Prison Practice: Embraced By the Welfare State?. Palgrave Macmillan.  ISBN 978-1-137-58528-8.  400 s.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff; Poulsen, Niels Bo & Christensen, Claus Bundgård (2016). De Waffen-SS. Het Europese leger van de Nazi's. Ad. Donker.  ISBN 978-90-6100-720-3.  798 s.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff; Poulsen, Niels Bo & Christensen, Claus Bundgård (2015). Waffen-SS. Europas nazistiske soldater. Gyldendal.  ISBN 978-87-030-7361-3.  783 s.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2014). When the Innocent are Punished. The Children of Imprisoned Parents. Palgrave Macmillan.  ISBN 978-1-137-41428-1.  298 s.

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  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Børn af fængslede.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Forskning og samfund.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). From Entry to Post-Release. Comparing transitions in different societies.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Fængsler, arkitektur og mennesker.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Kan man afskaffe fængsler?.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Out of the shadows – the children and families of prisoners.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Tiden i fengsel - og tiden utenfor, I: Pål Henrik Ekern (red.),  TID.  Preus Museum.  ISBN 978-82-92999-07-3.  Kapitel.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2018). Varetægtsfængsling - Danmarks hårdeste straf?.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Dynamic security, normalization or corruption of authority? Drugs, mobile phones and prisoner-staff relations in Danish prisons.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Forskning om børn af fængslede igennem et halvt århundrede - hvad ved vi i dag og hvad bør vi vide?.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Fængsler og straf.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Nordic Prison Practice.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Prisoners Families and the State.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Punishing the Innocent? Pre-trial detention in Scandinavia.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Varetægtsfængsling.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). Varetægtsfængsling i Danmark.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). What are the health consequences of solitary confinement?.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff (2017). What are the international experiences using alternatives and reducing the use of solitary confinement?.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Ugelvik, Thomas (2017). Scandinavian penal history, culture and prison practice.
  • Smith, Peter Scharff & Jakobsen, Janne (2016). Varetægtsfængsling - Danmarks hårdeste straf?, I: Steven L.B. Jensen & Anette Faye Jacobsen (red.),  Kampen om Menneskerettighederne.  Gad.  ISBN 978-87-12-05301-9.  kapitel 6.  s 74 - 93

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Published May 19, 2016 1:13 PM - Last modified July 2, 2018 11:10 AM