Source: (2000) Criminal Law Journal. 24: 236-247.

Imprisonment is traditionally thought to be an effective method of significantly reducing the crime rate. However, it is argued that imprisonment is at best only marginally related to crime reduction, despite the continuing imposition of more and longer prison sentences, with a correlated increase in prison expenditure. This paper argues that imprisonment rarely achieves most and never achieves all of the goals which sentencing aims at achieving, namely: punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. Alternative methods of crime control are discussed in the latter part of the paper, and it is argued that alternative sentencing options and early intervention are likely to be much more effective at reducing the crime rate than imprisonment, particularly for young offenders.