Problematic aspects of the concept of 'net-widening' as used in critical analyses of community corrections are documented. Political and analytical rationales for challenging contentions of 'net-widening' are advanced. The critical literature yields a political void. The conclusion of positivists that 'nothing works' in rehabilitating the recalcitrant offender has merely been transmuted by critical criminologists: 'nothing works' in reforming the recalcitrant criminal justice system.Methodological problems in analyses of 'net-widening' are illustrated through a re-examination of several key studies. Documentation of trends in imprisonment has often been partial. Fundamental differences in imprisonment and probation data have been obscured. Suggestions are made for moving beyond the reproduction of sociological pessimism and towards the accomplishment of critical praxis.