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.

From Big House to Bleak House: Prisons in the ‘Iron Times’ 1990–971

From big house to bleak house: Prisons in the ‘iron times’ 1990–97

In truth there has never been a ‘golden age’ of freedom from which to mark the current state of our ‘decline’ … Kenneth Baker, David Waddington and Michael Howard were at least as controversial in their day as John Reid, Charles Clarke and David Blunkett have been in theirs (Gearty, 2007: 49).

Between 1992 and 1997 the [prison] population increased by 33 per cent, which was similar to the increase in South Africa, America and Russia. The population was heavily racialised with 19 per cent of prisoners drawn from minority ethnic backgrounds when they constituted only 4 per cent of the general population. ...

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