• Prison on Trial by Thomas Mathiesen - book cover

Prison on Trial

by Thomas Mathiesen


Price: £22.50

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Waterside Press Criminal Policy Series: A leading text of worldwide renown, available in Norwegian, Danish, English, Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian – and Chinese. Highly acclaimed, Prison On Trial is the classic critique of prisons and imprisonment: a book for everyone’s library shelf and collection. For anyone seeking to understand the modern trend towards locking-up ever more people, it distills the arguments for and against incarceration in a readable, accessible and authoritative way – gaining in status each time prison populations increase across large parts of the world. In this new Third Edition – with its New Preface, Epilogue and other Revisions (plus all the material from earlier editions) – the author expands on the control aspects of prison, the gear change brought about by responses to international terrorism post-911 and the London bombings and explains how contemporary events are changing the boundaries of crime and punishment and increasing the risks to civil liberties and the Rule of Law. Thomas Mathiesen also argues for an ‘Alternative Public Space’ where discussion of serious and fundamental issues of this nature can take place free from the superficial world of knee-jerk reactions from politicians and the entertainment driven needs of the press and media.

Prison On Trial distills the arguments for and against imprisonment in a readable, accessible and authoritative way – making Thomas Mathiesen’s work a classic for students and other people concerned to understand the real issues. It is as relevant today as when it was first published – arguably more so as policy-making becomes increasingly politicized and true opportunities to influence developments diminish. Mindful of this, Mathiesen recommends an ‘alternative public space’ where people can engage in valid discussion on the basis of sound information, free from the survival priority of the media – to entertain.


‘Does exactly what it says on the cover: it puts the institution of prison on trial… this is vitally important… Retains its place as a leading presentation of the abolitionist case’– Prison Service Journal

‘A classic for students and other people’– Inside Time


Thomas Mathiesen is Professor of Sociology of Law at the University of Oslo. He was one of the founders of the Norwegian Association for Penal Reform. His widely acclaimed works include The Defences of the Weak (1995), Across the Boundaries of Organizations (1971), The Politics of Abolition (1974), Law, Society and Political Action (1980) and Silently Silenced: Essays on the Creation of Acquiescence in Modern Society (First English Edition, 2004).

Additional information

Weight295 g
Dimensions229 × 153 × 12 mm


Waterside Press






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United Kingdom

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