Please recycle: continuities in punishment

Andy Bain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years England and Wales have seen the continued escalation of prison numbers, whilst it appears that the actual crime figures are in decline. Baker and Roberts (2005) suggest that the development of punitive sentencing seems in response to a general public fearful of crime, to which O’Malley (1999) suggests provides the impetus for a return of a more draconian system of punishment, many of which have been lost to history. Considering each of these points, the article makes use of a number of contemporary examples from current penal practise in questioning the notions of new and innovative forms of punishment. The argument is made that society is presented with a badly drawn parody, a poor reflection, of those which have appeared in history and often fallen out of favour. It critically reflects upon and borrows from the arguments of (O’Malley, 1999) and (Pratt, 2000) and others, in its discussion of a rediscovery of punishment which is often contradictory in its nature, creating the illusion of change when in fact producing none. Thus the article sets out to argue that what we are faced with is the renaming, reinvention, or recycling of practises which seek to address a fear of crime, so often misconceived, and which ultimately, leads to the exclusion of individuals based upon previous behaviours and the potential for similar behaviours to occur.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-135
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Crime and Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


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