This project examines the politics of punishment in contemporary Central Europe. It explores how penal politics take shape in a region that has had direct experience with the abuses of confinement and imprisonment. How do political calls for law and order get answered by populations withinsight into the other agendas so often masked by penal harshness? How are they translated into penal policies and institutions? I address these questions through a study of penal discourses, policies, and practices in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Czech Republic. Based on over three years of fieldwork in Hungarian prisons, as well as comparative work on regional penal discourses and policies, this project will unpack the layers of complexity and contradiction that characterize the post-socialist world of punishment. It will also highlight the convergences and divergences in regional politics of punishment—while teasing out the intersecting influences of past and present, global and local, and ideology and practice on those politics.