Overcrowding in prisons has been considered an issue since the development of the modern prison; yet, it has evaded simple definition because there is no international consensus about how to measure it. The term prison overcrowding is most commonly used to describe a situation in which the population of a prison exceeds the capacity that it was designed to house. This, however, lacks a rigorous analysis of the many nuances that require consideration.

This entry begins by presenting some of the ways in which prison overcrowding is generally understood and measured and considers how it can be viewed as arising at a point where a number of criminal justice polices intersect. These include, for example, the role of the criminal justice system, attitudes toward prison sentencing, ...

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