• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.

Abolitionism in an Anti-Utopian Age
Abolitionism in an anti-utopian age

… we can place a high-tech vehicle on Mars that moves on cue; but we cannot muster the will or resources to fix a defective social order (Jacoby, 2005: 149).

Forget about reform; it's time to talk about abolishing jails and prisons. … Still-abolition? Where do you put the prisoners? The ‘criminals’? What's the alternative? First, having no alternative at all would create less crime than the present criminal training centres. Second, the only full alternative is building the kind of society that does not need prisons: A decent redistribution of power and income so as to put out the hidden fire of burning envy that now flames up in crimes of property – both burglary by ...

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