This is a depressing but necessary study of British recidivists, or habitual offenders. ""Charlie Smith's"" case, the main example here, is not at all singular although it has one striking feature. At the age of 48, having served 16 years on seven different convictions, Charlie was released and recaptured all in the same day. As Tony Parker states the case, Charlie is a moral and emotional incompetent who needs years of training (and perhaps some luck with society). He offers no false hopes about Charlie's potential recovery as a ""known"" citizen. Charlie (who has again been released) was an orphan and has never had a meaningful human relationship in his life. What Parker suggests, is the necessity of early psychiatric treatment in prison, personality restructuring, and a very special type of laissez-faire, post-prison hostel for discharged prisoners. Merely turning them loose to fend for themselves is a crime in itself... The idea is not new, only the venue.