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An examination of the relationship between sentencing law and policy as it has evolved in Victoria over more than a century. In this major addition to the Australasian Studies in Criminology Series, the authors outline the relationship between sentencing reform and penal change: how sentencing systems develop and operate; how and why certain sanctions are created, how they are implemented and how they interact with each other. The authors argue that legislative sentencing reform and its effects can only be understood as one element in a larger set of institutional, political and demographic factors which influence the criminal justice system as a whole. They draw comparisons with other Australian States and experience overseas where their findings and analysis have great relevance.