This book interrogates Conservative government penal policy for adult and young adult offenders in England and Wales between 2015 and 2021. Government penal policy is shown to have been often ineffective and costly, and to have revived efforts to push the system towards a disastrous combination of austerity, outsourcing and punishment that has exacerbated the penal crisis.
This investigation has meant touching on topical debates dealing with the impact of resource scarcity on offenders' experiences of the penal system, the impact of an increasing emphasis on punishment on offenders’ sense of justice and fairness, the balance struck between infection control and offender welfare during the government handling of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and why successive Conservative governments have intransigently pursued a penal policy that has proved crisis-exacerbating.
The overall conclusion reached is that penal policy is too important to be left to governments alone and needs to be recalibrated by a one-off inquiry, complemented by an on-going advisory body capable of requiring governments to ‘explain or change’. The book is distinctive in that it provides a critical review of penal policy change, whist combining this with insights derived from the sociological analysis of penal trends.
Christopher David Skinns is an independent commentator. He has a long-standing interest in penal policy, first stimulated by his work with young offenders immediately after graduating. After completing postgraduate degrees at Sheffield University, UK, and Cambridge University, UK, he went on to further develop this interest by teaching criminology in higher education. He completed a PhD at Hull University, UK. After retiring from university teaching, he began work with the Independent Monitoring Board for Prisons.