The framework of the comparative institutional analysis allows the assessment of different institutions, practices and approaches to policy problems by using transnational examples. In this case, New Zealand incarceration approach will be compared to the decriminalization of Portugal. The comparative analysis methodology is beneficial as it promotes critical thought and a gathering of knowledge.
As of 2001, Portugal took an unprecedented step to decriminalize personal use and possession of all drugs by switching criminal proceedings with administrative sanctions; in keeping with international treaties. This was a response to the failure of a punitive approach to deterring drug consumption which is the predominant system in New Zealand. Portugal has turned to harm reduction through effective treatment and prevention. This approach is more humanistic and it understands that zero tolerance to crime or unacceptable social behaviour is impossible.
 Mirjam Van Het Loo, Ineke Van Beusekom, James. P. Kahan, Decriminalization of Drug Use in Portugal: The Development of a Policy, Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, pp.49-63, (2002). http://www.jstor.org/stable/1049733[date accessed: 26/4/2012].