Penal Policy, Politics and Public Opinion

  • Gemma Birkett
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


This chapter considers the development of post-war penal policy in England and Wales through the lens of Rutherford’s penal paradigms. Drawing on Loader’s notion of the platonic guardians, it documents the changing nature of penal policymaking, from a private process involving elite experts to what we now recognise as ‘the culture of impatience’ (Loader, 2006). Demonstrating how the competing penal philosophies have enjoyed political favour at different junctures (from the post-war philosophy of rehabilitation to the punitive shift of the 1980s), it highlights the confused nature of the current penal position, framed – once again – in the language of reform. This refocus (manifested through the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda and the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014) provides an example of the ‘new rehabilitation’ (Garland, 2001) and sits alongside the dominant punitive rhetoric espoused by


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gemma Birkett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyCity, University of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

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