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This unique and original textbook offers undergraduates and interested professionals a much-needed description of how the penal system, including both prisons and alternatives to custody, is organized in eight major Western European countries. Each chapter provides readers with a critical anatomy and empirical overview of the full range of penal sanctions used in each country and an analysis of how these sanctions are implemented. Using statistical data which are t widely available, contributors examine the nature of the penal population in relation to sentencing, to its class, gender and racial composition and to the nature of the offences for which individuals have been confined. While highlighting several common trends in penal policy and strategy across Europe and seeking to assess to what extent these commonalities are being generated by the wider process of political integration, Western European Penal Systems also demonstrates that each of the eight countries has to an important extent its own culture of punishment which is constantly being reinterpreted and reworked.