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The Comparative Penology Group (COMPEN) is led by Prof. Ben Crewe, and the project is funded by the European Research Council. The project started in 2016, running for a 5-year period and is officially titled: 'Penal policymaking and the prisoner experience: a comparative analysis'. The research team is mixed internationally and disciplinarily and consists of Kristian Mjåland, Julie Laursen, Anna Schliehe and Alice Ievins.

The research is based in England & Wales and Norway and it involves four inter-related studies, each taking place in both countries: first, a study of penal policymaking and the 'penal field' - that is, the set of players and processes that shape penal policy and practice; second, an exploration of the texture of imprisonment for women and imprisoned sex offenders, with a particular focus on how these prisoners experience penal power and it shapes their everyday social world within prison; third, a study of how prisoners experience points of entry into and exit from the system; and fourth, a study of the 'deep end' of each prison system, that is, the units holding prisoners considered to be most dangerous or difficult to manage, in the most secure and controlled conditions. This project therefore has several comparative components between sub-studies, field sites and countries.

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