We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Easton & Piper: Sentencing and Punishment 4e


You can also download the glossary below as a PDF document: easton_piper4e_glossary.pdf

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]


Anchoring point
The level at which punishment is set.

Attorney General
The principal law officer of the Crown who is responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service.

[Back to top]


In the prison context refers to identifying the most efficient ways of working and then applying them across the prison estate, with separate benchmarks for each type of prison and prisoner.

In relation to youth justice denotes a two-pronged policy whereby the majority of offenders are diverted from prosecution and the minority are prosecuted and punished.

[Back to top]


Cardinal proportionality
Non- relative proportionality where the overall level of punishment is addressed.

The process of public denunciation and reproof of an offender's criminal behaviour.

The opening up of the market to new providers of goods and services, for example from the voluntary sector as well as the private sector.

Blameworthiness in relation to criminal wrong-doing.

[Back to top]


The person or company who is charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution or the party sued in a civil lawsuit.

Using punishment to deter the general public from offending (general deterrence) or to deter offenders from reoffending (special or individual deterrence).

The power of the sentencer or other official to make a choice of processes or outcomes available.

Doli incapax
A Latin phrase meaning 'incapable of wrong'. Currently this refers to children under 10 years of age in English law.

[Back to top]


Early release
Means release from the custodial part of a prison sentence before the end of the term specified by the court for the whole sentence.

[Back to top]


Formerly (until 1967) an offence more serious than a misdemeanour.

Fixed penalty
A financial penalty which can be imposed by the police and other specified bodies for a range of offences.

[Back to top]


Different meanings in different contexts. Refers generally to the exercise of power more widely than that covered by the term 'government'.

[Back to top]


Preventing reoffending by removing offenders from society through the death penalty, imprisonment, or other means.

Indictable offence
An offence that may be tried on indictment, that is, by jury in the Crown Court. Some indictable offences are triable either way.

[Back to top]


Just deserts
The term used to refer to punishment calculated in relation to the culpability of the offender. It is an outcome justified on retributivist principles.

[Back to top]


Less eligibility
The principle developed originally in relation to the Poor Law, that conditions inside prison must be worse than outside prison for the deterrent effect to operate.

[Back to top]


Mentally disordered offender
The term used to refer to offenders who have been categorised as such under s. 1 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Formerly (before 1967) any of the less serious offences.

Moral panic
A term used to denote a theory developed to explain the way an incident triggers a generalised and disproportionate public concern about a social issue or penal policy.

[Back to top]


New Managerialism
Using strategies and techniques from the private sector in the management of punishment in the public sector, focusing on the most efficient use of resources, for example, using Key Performance Targets, Key Performance Indicators, and league tables.

New Penology
An approach which is concerned with risk management, using actuarial data to predict and manage risk, and which focuses on categories of offenders rather than individuals.

In the context of imprisonment, using the same standards in prison which are applied to the lives of offenders in the community as far as possible, within the constraints required by imprisonment, so that prisoners are able to lead as normal lives as possible apart from their loss of liberty.

[Back to top]


The system used by probation and prison services for assessing the risks and needs of an offender.

Ordinal proportionality
An amount of punishment which is proportionate to culpability in terms of parity between offenders committing offences of similar gravity, and such that the relative severity of punishment reflects the seriousness-ranking of offences.

The management technique of tendering part of an organisation's work or services to an external provider.

[Back to top]


Paramountcy principle
The legal principle that the welfare of the child shall be paramount in the making of decisions about the child's upbringing.

Parsimony principle
Using the most economical means of punishment, to impose the least severe punishment necessary to achieve the objective of crime reduction.

Populist punitiveness
The increased punitiveness of governments to attract public support.

The forms of adaptation of individuals and groups to prison life.

The transfer of state functions or services to the private sector.

Protective sentencing
Sentencing with the aim of reducing the likelihood that the offender will cause harm to the public by offending in the future. The form such public protection takes may be incapacitation through imprisonment.

Prudential disincentive
A penalty which is designed to deter an individual from offending.

[Back to top]


The amount of money awarded as compensation or imposed as punishment.

[Back to top]


Exclusionary practices based on assumptions about racial hierarchies, which see the qualities of social groups as fixed.

Rehabilitative ideal
Using treatment and training in custody or in the community to rehabilitate individuals so that they can contribute to society.

Restorative justice
An approach to crime and disorder which focuses on the restoration of harmony between the victim, the offender, and the community.

The theory of punishment which links punishment to the desert of the individual and which matches the severity of the punishment to the seriousness of the crime.

Specifying a proportion of a budget which can be used only for particular purposes.

[Back to top]


Sentencing guidelines
The guidance issued by the Sentencing Council (and the previous Sentencing Guidelines Council) in the form of Definitive Guidelines for use by all criminal courts.

Summary offences
Offences that can only be tried before magistrates. Most minor offences are summary offences.

[Back to top]


Three strikes laws
Mandatory minimum sentencing schemes in the United States aimed at repeat offenders where the third sentence mandates 25 years to life in prison.

[Back to top]


Utilitarian theories of punishment
The use of punishment to reduce or prevent crime through deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.

A philosophical approach which sees individuals as motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain and uses this to devise policies which maximise the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

[Back to top]


Welfare principles
The principles which inform or direct decision- making by the courts or public bodies in relation to the up bringing of children and young people under 18 years of age. The paramountcy principle is one such principle.

[Back to top]


Youth offending teams (YOTs)
Are the inter- agency bodies set up by local authorities as a result of s. 39 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and have a variety of functions.

[Back to top]