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Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Hale et al: Criminology 3e

Chapter 25: Chapter synopses

Imprisonment has been the dominant form of punishment in western societies for the last 200 years. However, the role, scale and function of the prison service have not remained as they were at its inception, seeing a steady evolution based around consistent debate and not a little controversy.

This chapter takes a historical perspective to the examination of the prison system, outlining the more significant developments in incarceration, with a particular focus upon the changing role and impact of prisons, its scale and purpose, as well as an examination of those entering the prison system and the relationship between prisons and the wider community. In the course of this discussion some key issues are addressed: What is the purpose of prisons? Do prisons work? Is the prison service in 'crisis'? It also introduces students to key terms and concepts associated with the criminological discussion of the prison system.