• Against Imprisonment by David Scott - book cover

Against Imprisonment

An Anthology of Abolitionist Essays

by David Scott, Foreword by Emma Bell


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A collection of writings by Dr David Scott which build on his work teaching criminology for over 20 years. Against Imprisonment includes topics such as ‘The Changing Face of the Prison’, justifications of punishment, prison violence and the shortcomings of prisons and mega-prisons. Very much against the current political obsession with increasing incarceration this book is a wake-up call for all those who feel the use of imprisonment is failing to achieve a reduction in crime.

Provides a compelling analysis of the failings of imprisonment. Sheds new light on this pressing topic. Explains why prisons do not work for most offenders.


‘The multitude of perspectives, the pleasantly readable linguistic style and commitment with which Scott writes, make Against Imprisonment a refreshing and instructive read.’– TOA (German Restorative Justice Journal).

‘This thought-provoking collection gave us a compelling analysis of current failings of the concept of imprisonment which should be compulsory reading for those working in the Ministry of Justice … the forerunner of massive change.’– Elizabeth Robson Taylor and Phillip Taylor MBE of Richmond Green Chambers.

‘Scott systematically dismantles widely-accepted justifications for punishment on ethical, political, philosophical and practical grounds, forcefully demonstrating that the only clear purpose of imprisonment is the infliction of pain and suffering on all those who come into contact with the prison place, whether as detainees or staff. He provides us with fascinating glimpses…into what he describes as “modern-day cathedrals of pain”. Turning the utopian myth that “prison works” on its head, he invites us to imagine “real utopian” non-penal alternatives to punishment that respect human dignity and deliver genuine social justice.’— Emma Bell (from the Foreword).

What would a world without prisons be like? – A viewpoint from David Scott (BBC Ideas – short video).


Dr David Scott works at the Open University where his research interests include the ethical and political foundations of penal abolitionism, human rights and social justice and critical approaches to poverty, prisons and punishment. He is a former editor of the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice and the co-founding editor of the European Group Journal Justice, Power and Resistance. He also worked at Edge Hill University, the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, the University of Central Lancashire and Liverpool John Moores University.

The author of the Foreword

Emma Bell is Professor of British Politics at the Savoie University, France. She is the author of Criminal Justice and Neoliberalism (Palgrave, 2011) and is a former co-ordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control.

Additional information

Weight387 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 15 mm

Foreword author

Emma Bell


Waterside Press




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Place of origin

United Kingdom

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