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.

For Abolitionist Praxis: Transcending the Prison Mentality1

For abolitionist praxis: Transcending the prison mentality

Institutions as they exist at the moment are a danger to the community (Boyle, 1984: 34).

It should be possible – using, for example, the current struggle for justice – to develop middle-range policy alternatives, which do not compromise any overall design for fundamental social change. This does not mean simply employing this overall design to develop a theoretical critique of the justice programme, but actually being brave enough to speculate on some policy alternatives, however unfinished and unworkable they might appear. When the world goes out of frame – as it has tended to in the past – we lose the chance of influencing it. Conservative interests have always kept the world ...

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