Drastic increases in the use of imprisonment; the introduction of ’three strikes’ laws and mandatory sentences; restrictions on parole – all of these developments appear to signify a new, harsher era or ’punitive turn’. Yet these features of criminal justice are not universally present in all Western countries. Drawing on empirical data, Hamilton examines the prevalence of harsher penal policies in Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, thereby demonstrating the utility of viewing criminal justice from the perspective of smaller jurisdictions. This highly innovative book is thoroughly critical of the way in which punitiveness is currently measured by leading criminologists. It is essential reading for students and scholars of criminology, penology, criminal justice and socio-legal studies, as well as criminal lawyers and practitioners.