With prisons overflowing and penal policy the topic of hot debate, Punishment and Prisons: Power and the Carceral State presents a lively and accessible discussion of possible solutions to the current crisis, by one of the foremost scholars in the field.

Joe Sim traces the development of penal strategy over the past three decades, through a critical analysis of the relationship between penal policy and state power. Exploring the contested histories of punishment that are prominent in criminology, and its development in penal policy, the book analyzes four key dimensions of modern penal trends:

  • Continuity and discontinuity in penal policy and practice
  • Reform and rehabilitation
  • Contesting penal power
  • Abolitionism

Articulate, innovative, and theoretically informed, Punishment and Prisons offers a critical overview of contemporary penal politics that will prove a compelling addition to the criminological library.

The book is written for not only for students and academics but also for those involved in the debates on penal policy – including prison reform groups, politicians, and the media. It offers a series of suggestions for alleviating the current crisis, setting out a policy agenda for transforming the role and place of the prison in the criminal justice system.

Hard Reign: Thatcherism and the Consolidation of Penal Authoritarianism 1983–90

Hard reign: Thatcherism and the consolidation of penal authoritarianism 1983–90

There was a revolution still to be made, and too few revolutionaries. The appointment of the first Cabinet in the new Parliament [in 1983] … seemed a chance to recruit some (Thatcher, 1993: 306).

In the 60 years up to 1985 there were just six criminal justice acts, but in the following decade there were six – one every 18 months instead of one every decade (Dean, 2006: 4).

Convicts and Conviction Politicians

Just before she became Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher indicated that she was neither a consensual nor a pragmatic politician. Rather she described herself as a ‘conviction politician’ who needed a ‘conviction Cabinet’ (cited in Gilmour, 1993: ...

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