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Introduction

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

Abstract

When the Advisory Committee on the Penal System reported on the prison regime for long-term prisoners in conditions of maximum security in 1968, only 168 individuals were serving sentences of longer than 10 years. Today, such sentences are bordering on commonplace. England and Wales have the highest number of life-sentenced prisoners within Europe, while increasing average sentence lengths mean that more men and women are serving longer periods in custody than ever before. It is within this context of shifting penal sensibilities, and increasing anxieties about a growing population of young men serving very long sentences, that this chapter provides the background to the study at the heart of this book. Such considerations are located within relevant shifts in the penal system of England and Wales, in particular, the legacy of the minimum tariffs contained within the 2003 Criminal Justice Act, the ‘up-tariffing’ of ‘knife homicides’ and the increasing use of joint enterprise sentencing.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    As we explain in Chapter 2, throughout the book, when quoting prisoners, we specify their pseudonym, their age by decade, and their sentence stage at the time of the interview.

  2. 2.

    Wholesale removal of the death penalty as a legally defined, if unused, punishment from the statute books in England and Wales did not occur until 1998.

  3. 3.

    These figures exclude whole-life tariffs.

  4. 4.

    NOMS was the name of the organisation that oversaw prison and probation services in England and Wales from June 2004 until April 2017, at which point it was renamed Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

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Crewe, B., Hulley, S., Wright, S. (2020). Introduction. In: Life Imprisonment from Young Adulthood. Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-56601-0_1

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