It had been the case that in advanced liberal democracies, criminal law and penal policy were bound by clearly defined parameters, that then helped to distinguish governance in the democracies from the non-democratic world. And one of the features of citizenship in the democracies was the importance that was given to protecting individual rights in the administration of justice. From the 1980s, however, this has given way to a focus on protecting the public, at the expense of individual rights from those who would otherwise put it at risk. As this has occurred, criminal law has become more regulatory, punitive an extensive. It will be argued that the rise and influence of penal populism lies behind these transformations. It illustrates their extent and importance and explains why populist influences should have had so much purchase in this particular sector.