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Cover Criminology

25. Prisons  

Roger Matthews

Imprisonment has been the main form of punishment in western societies for the last 200 years. In that period, however, its role, scale, and functions have changed considerably. This chapter discusses the history of prisons; the role and impact of imprisonment; changes in its scale and purpose; and why it has become the dominant form of punishment in Western societies for the last 200 years.


Cover The Oxford Textbook on Criminology

28. Punishment  

This chapter discusses the place that punishment occupies as a response to crime. In many ways, the idea of punishment lies at the heart of our thinking about crime and criminal justice. It acts as a kind of balancing factor to the offence and seems like an obvious and natural consequence of a wrongful act, as in the biblical idea of ‘an eye for an eye’. However, the criminologist’s task is precisely to interrogate fundamental assumptions and to question the obvious. As such, there is a need to consider, with a critical eye, some well-established conventions such as the principle of ‘just deserts’ and the idea that we should make ‘the punishment fit the crime’. The chapter explores aspects of the historical development of punishment and its changing role in society and looks at particular forms of penal sanction, notably the death penalty, the use of imprisonment, and community-based alternatives to the deprivation of liberty. The chapter then assesses the role of the judiciary in administering punishments, the consequences of imposing punitive measures, and the criticisms of the use of punishment.


Cover The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

31. Understanding penal decision-making: Courts, sentencing, and parole  

Nicola Padfield and Cyrus Tata

This chapter expounds on the understanding of penal decision-making under the critical perspective that understands the interplay between courts, sentencing, and parole. It examines key issues in the daily realities of the work of sentencing and parole and their implications for research and policy. Conventional wisdom and popular assumptions about criminal justice have been led by a preoccupation with the most serious, glamorous cases. The chapter highlights the significance of the presumption of innocence, citing that cases are judged as unique and criminal justice agencies work autonomously in penal decision-making. It considers several strategies to reduce the use of imprisonment by promoting community alternatives


Cover The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

42. Convict criminology without guarantees: Proposing hard labour for an unfinished criminology  

Rod Earle, Danica Darley, Bill Davies, David Honeywell, and Ed Schreeche-Powell

This chapter examines the key concepts of convict criminology. It explains that convict criminology is largely involved with criminological and penological research produced by people who combine first-hand experience of imprisonment with criminological training and insight. Moreover, convict criminology offers an alternative perspective on criminological issues grounded in lived experience while reshaping the degraded image of the prisoner in the public imagination. The subfield subverts the abject status of the convict or prisoner as an object of suspicion circulating darkly in the social depths. The chapter mentions that convict criminologists should be wary of the reductionist convenience of their social position to their epistemological position