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The Penal System

The Penal System
An Introduction

Sixth Edition
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December 2019 | 540 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Now in its Sixth Edition, this book remains the most comprehensive and authoritative on the penal system, providing students with an incisive, critical account of the punitive, managerial and humanitarian approaches to criminal justice.


Fully updated to cover the most recent changes in the Criminal Justice System, the new edition: 

  • Outlines contemporary policy debates on sentencing, staffing, youth custody and overcrowding.
  • Explores growing inequalities in the criminal justice system including issues of race, religion, gender and sexuality, with new content on faith, and transgender prisoners.
  • Considers the impact of privatisation on the probation service.
  • Discusses the most recent debates around the parole process, including high-profile cases and attempts at reform.

The book is supported by online resources for lecturers and students, including chapter PowerPoints, seminar plans, summaries of key legislative acts and bills, White Papers, consultation papers and official reports, regular updates on policy developments, a glossary, useful weblinks and links to further reading.


Essential reading for students of criminal justice and criminology, studying penology, punishments and the penal system.

Chapter 1. Crisis? What crisis?
Chapter 2. Justifying punishment
Chapter 3. Explaining punishment
Chapter 4. Sentencing: the crux of the crisis
Chapter 5. Punishment in the community
Chapter 6. Prisons and the penal crisis
Chapter 7. Early release: the penal system's safety valve
Chapter 8. The youth justice system
Chapter 9. Diversity and bias in the criminal justice system
Chapter 10. Solving the crisis?

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ISBN: 9781526460691
ISBN: 9781526460684