This collection brings together leading international scholars and practitioners to provide a critical guide to penal systems across Europe. Each chapter forms a case study outlining the main contours of each national penal system, identifying and interpreting the combination of forces driving penal practice in that country. Through its exploration of twelve different Western and Eastern European countries, this collection identifies the national particularities, but also the commonalities and cross talk between penal systems, such as the overuse of imprisonment and the harsher sanctions against the poor when breaking the law. The book challenges this bias with a call for a more critical, public criminology, raising fundamental questions about how we justify and deliver punishment in Europe. Includes contributions from Inaki Rivera Beiras, Emma Bell, Miranda Boone, Bernd Dollinger, Patrizio Gonnella, Philip Gounev, Hanns von Hofer, Vassilis Karydis, Nikolaos K. Koulouris, Andrea Kretschmann, Monica Aranda Ocana, Laura Piacentini, Monika Platek, Philippe Robert, Mary Rogan, Rene van Swaaningen and Enrik Tham.