Source: (1991) Aldershot, UK and Brookfield, VT: Dartmouth Publishing.A theoretical essay explores possible explanations for the variation in punishment (i.e., incarceration rates) among nations with similar socioeconomic and cultural environments. Data analysis clearly shows that variations in the use of prison are minimally associated with crime. It was possible to predict incarceration rates quite closely from extremes of wealth and poverty in a country. "Extremism" is proposed as a unifying factor to explain both the packaging of value choices and the associations between incarceration and crime. Useful directions include victim support and compensation, restitution, reconciliation and witness cooperation schemes.