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NCJ Number
M Cavadino; J Dignan
Date Published
303 pages
Various facets of the penal system in England and Wales are reviewed, including the sentencing process, imprisonment, parole, community-based programs, the treatment of young offenders, and the issue of bias in the criminal system, and the authors outline theories that seek to justify and explain punishment.
The penal system in England and Wales characterizes criminal offenses as indictable only, summary only, and triable either way. Indictable only offenses, such as murder, rape, and robbery, must be tried in the Crown Court before a judge, with a jury of 12 randomly selected lay people to decide on the verdict if the defendant pleads not guilty. Summary only offenses, such as common assault, minor criminal damage, and most motoring offenses, must be tried at the magistrate court before at least two lay justices of the peace or a single stipendiary magistrate. Convicted defendants may appeal to a higher court, either against their conviction or sentence. An imprisonment sentence means that the offender is allocated to a prison by the Home Office Prison Department. Noncustodial sentences usually require the offender to carry out some action, such as pay a fine or perform community service. The authors contend that the penal system in England and Wales not only suffers from severe practical problems but is also morally indefensible, and they outline needed reforms. They also examine penal sociology, court decisions, the prison system, early release, young offenders, noncustodial penalties, penal system bias, and the just deserts theory. References, notes, tables, and figures