This article offers an initial impact assessment regarding the introduction of new legislative responsibilities at the Land level in a case study of prisons policy (Strafvollzug). Combining an analysis of new legislation produced across the 16 Länder since the responsibility for prisons policy was transferred to the Land level, and insights into the mechanics of policy development obtained through a series of interviews with senior politicians and officials, this article finds that the desire among Länder to legislative independently has varied, with substantial backing for co-ordination in the development of new legislation. This has helped to confound expectations of a ‘competition of harshness’ which many expected to result from decentralisation. However, even before the 2006 reforms, there were substantial variations between the Länder when it came to implementing prisons policy, so consideration of the sub-national level in this area remains essential.
-This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in German Politics on 13/4/16, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09644008.2016.1157166