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Hale et al: Criminology 3e

Chapter 24: Chapter synopses

This chapter explores and explains the history, philosophies, current practices and policy debates surrounding those sanctions which are, though misleadingly, frequently referred to as ?alternatives to prison?. It argues that community sentences should not be viewed merely as ?alternatives? to prison but understood as representing a different sphere of penal regulation which is based on enabling and requiring offenders to take responsibility for changing their own lives and behaviour without the physical constraints of imprisonment. Discussion begins with a brief introduction to the terminology and key concepts of community sentences.

The chapter presents a detailed description of the range of sentences available to courts, the relevant legislation and the extent to which these sentences are used. A brief history of the Probation Service?the agency responsible for most community sentences?follows, concluding with the creation of the National Offender Management Service and the setting up of probation trusts.

The chapter then proceeds to an analysis of the main issues and problems presented by offender management, including an exploration of the impact of the ?What Works? agenda, which dominated developments in this area during the late 1990s and into the early part of the twenty-first century. It ends by considering probation in other countries.

The concluding section of the chapter will summarize the relevant key facts, concepts and debates.