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Examining the British sentencing policy, this work traces the developments that have led to prison over-crowding before proposing a possible solution to the problem. The book offers an analysis of the factors that led to prison being first accepted as the disposal of the last resort, and of how that consensus view was destroyed in the mid-1990s. Comparison with the US and European experience is also included, as is an account of sentencing in the Criminal Justice Acts of 1982 and 1991, and the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997. The authors demonstrate how difficult it is for even the best-run prison to help prisoners lead law-abiding lives. They also illustrate how the most effective prison programmes are the most likely to be sacrificed as a result of cutbacks and attribute the present over-crowding to the previous government's punitive rhetoric.