Public policy systems, much like humans, can operate under continual stress over long periods of time. Whereas analysis of these systems often tends to focus on the extremes of success or failure, the more complex reality is that more often than not they neither completely excel nor completely fail in what they do, but combine elements of both in the way they cope and perform under stress. This book explores these dynamics through the archetypal case of crowding in British prisons. Packed with data, it provides an original analysis of the prison system through an era of managerialist change. It contributes to contemporary debates on the management of prisons, and the wider fields of public management, governance, and executive politics. At its heart lies a new concept of "e;chronic capacity stress"e; (CCS), one which will be valuable to anyone - academics, practitioners, students alike - interested in how policy systems both succeed and fail in complex and ever-changing political, economic, and social environments.