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In the shadow of the prison gates: an institutional analysis of early release policy and practice in England and Wales, 1960 – 1995

Guiney, Thomas (2015) In the shadow of the prison gates: an institutional analysis of early release policy and practice in England and Wales, 1960 – 1995. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the historical development of early release policy and practice in England and Wales between 1960 - 1995. The evolution of criminal justice as a public policy concern has attracted considerable interest within the literature but this has tended to focus on the role of individuals as key agents of policy change or the ‘big picture’ socio-economic shifts associated with late twentieth-century modernity. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the mediating role of institutions at the intersection between policy and politics. This thesis builds the case for a systematic and historically grounded analysis of public policy and examines the important, but often overlooked, influence of political institutions on the trajectory of criminal justice in England and Wales. Building upon detailed archival research this thesis considers three critical junctures in the evolution of early release policy and practice; the introduction of a modern system of parole in the Criminal Justice Act 1967; the complex policy debates that surrounded the extension of release on licence to short sentence offenders in the 1980s; and the steps taken to rationalise the operation of early release by the Carlisle Committee and Criminal Justice Act 1991. These detailed historical case studies reveal a complex picture of continuity and change. The archival records draw attention to the complex, messy and contingent nature of criminal justice administration, the strong path dependent effects of public policy choices and the critical role of uneven power differentials in both impeding and catalysing the development of early release policy and practice between 1960 - 1995. Finally, this thesis reflects upon the methodological implications of this dynamic view of policy change and the benefits of a grounded historical institutionalism that examines public policy ‘as life is lived’ rather than taking a snapshot of those interactions at one point in time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Thomas Charles Guiney
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Newburn, Tim and Reiner, Robert
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3324

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