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Punishment and Prisons

Punishment and Prisons
Power and the Carceral State

First Edition
  • Joe Sim - Liverpool John Moore's University, UK

June 2009 | 200 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

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.


Continuity and Contestation in Penal Politics
Law, Order and the Penal System 1974-1983
Hard Reign
Thatcherism and the Consolidation of Penal Authoritarianism, 1983-1990

From Big House to Bleak House
Prisons in the 'Iron Times' 1990-1997

'Piety and Iron'
New Labour and Social Authoritarianism

'Those with no Capital get the Punishment'
New Labour and the Working Prison

For Abolitionist Praxis
Transcending the Prison Mentality

Abolitionism in an Anti-Utopian Age

Overall, the book is an impressive and provocative achievement. A brief summary cannot do justice to the wealth of detail and subtlety of argument contained in the pages. Among the many important themes explored in the book perhaps the most significant is the enduring presence of the prison within the political landscape of the last three decades. Indeed, one of the major strengths of the book is the way each of the substantive chapters has a nuanced grasp of the ideological struggles surrounding crime and punishment within both Conservative and New Labour administrations.

Theoretical Criminology

A fantastic text that offers not only a supplementary overview to the prison system, but offers the level of critical discussion needed for third year students. I found this text very enjoyable to read and recommend it to any penologist.

Mr Lewis Simpson
Department of Health & Social Studies, Grimsby Institute of HE & FE
April 6, 2016

A must for students of penal institutions

Mr William Graham
School of Social and Health Sciences, University of Abertay, Dundee
March 11, 2015

A leading authoritive text on the the current strategy of punishment of the poor and the powerless. Inciting discussion, debate and critique. A must read for any undergraduate seeking to evaluate the impact of discrimination in state responses to crime, control and regulation.

Miss Gillian Dickinson
School of Business, Law and Criminology, Blackburn College
October 26, 2015

An excellent book which I read from cover to cover in a day and a half. Beautifully written and scholarly in style it offers an incisive critical analysis of the development of penal policy in Britain since the mid-1970s. This is well worth recommending to students who may not have a full understanding of the political contexts in which penal policies have been developed. As such it will assist them to offer more scope to their essay and exam answers on the subject of punishment.

Mr Andrew Henley
Department of Criminology, Keele University
June 10, 2013

The content was easy to read and comprehensive.

Miss Frances Jackson
Public Services, Peterborough Regional College
October 25, 2011

An excellent text that addresses many important and complex issues and debates within penal policy.

Ms Helen Arnold
Social Science , University Campus Suffolk
July 11, 2011

An interesting read which poses some key areas of thought for undergradute students studying this subject.
I will be putting this on a recommended reading list for one module

Miss Laura Firth
Public Services, Runshaw College
May 13, 2011

The author presents key developments and discussions in penal practice in a logical and systematic manner, with an emphasis on the chronological developments in the use of custody. The politicisation of imprisonment that is articulated in this text are pertinent to current reforms in penal thought, and therefore this serves as an essential source for those studying contemporary criminal justice practices. An excellent text for undergraduate and post graduate learners as well as scholars

Dr Paul Taylor
Social Studies and Counselling, Chester University
April 11, 2011

An excellent text which covers its topic in an informative and critically challenging manner.

Dr John Martyn Chamberlain
Fac of Social Sciences & Humanities, Loughborough University
November 4, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Joe Sim

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ISBN: 9780761960041

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