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Article

Covid-19 Emergency Prison Release Policy: A Public Health Imperative and a Rule of Law Challenge

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords emergency prison release, rule of law, democracy, reducing prison overcrowding, prisoner rights, appropriate sanctions for white collar criminals, alternatives to custodial sentences
Authors Victoria Jennett
AbstractAuthor's information

    Many countries are implementing emergency releases of people from prison to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Such measures, while critical to public health, can enable the unjust release from prison of politically connected and wealthy individuals convicted of corruption offences, thereby undermining the rule of law and democratic values by weakening public trust in the justice system. To reduce overcrowding of prisons while ensuring that white-collar criminals are appropriately sanctioned, one strategy is to impose alternatives to custodial sentences that ensure appropriate sanctioning of convicted criminals while de-densifying prisons – an approach that could be considered for non-emergency times as well.
    Main points:

    • Emergency prison release mechanisms to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can pose corruption risks owing to weak design, uneven implementation and inadequate oversight.

    • Such releases take three main forms: prisoner amnesties declared by governments; emergency release procedures drafted by governments and implemented by prison directors; and court decisions to release individual prisoners or set out frameworks to determine who is eligible for release.

    • These emergency procedures can enable the unjust release of politically connected prisoners convicted of corruption offences and undermine public trust in the rule of law and the justice system.

    • To help maintain rule of law during the emergency, alternatives to custodial sentences in line with international standards can be imposed on newly released persons who have been convicted of corruption crimes.

    • Conditions attached to releases can include, among others, status penalties, economic sanctions and monetary penalties, confiscation or expropriation of assets, and restitution or compensation to victims.

    • In non-emergency times, as well, alternatives to custodial sentences can be used to sanction those convicted of corruption crimes as a means to mitigate financial and social damage caused by corruption and reduce prison overcrowding.


Victoria Jennett
Dr. Victoria Jennett is an independent consultant to governments and international organisations on justice sector reform. She acknowledges the insights from Sofie Arjon Shuette at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, UNODC colleagues and prison officials in the UK and the USA on an earlier version of this paper.

    The years 2018-2020 saw a number of new international legal instruments and guidelines relating to restorative justice. In 2018, a landmark Recommendation adopted by the Council of Europe and a Resolution by the Organization of American States encouraged its use in their regions. In 2019, the Milquet Report proposed amending a European Union Directive to promote restorative justice as a diversion from court, while in 2020, the European Union adopted a new Victims’ Strategy, and the United Nations published a revised Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes. This article identifies and analyses the principal developments in this new international framework. It demonstrates the growing consensus on the potential applicability of restorative justice for all types of offences, and the emerging recognition that restorative justice should aim to satisfy the needs of all participants. It also explores statements endorsing the use of restorative justice beyond the criminal procedure and advising criminal justice institutions to utilise restorative principles to inform cultural change. The paper concludes that implementing international policies domestically requires justice reform advocates to build strong, trusting relationships, and organise inclusive partnerships, with all those who hold a stake in the development of restorative justice.


Ian D. Marder
Ian D. Marder is a Lecturer in Criminology at the Department of Law of the Maynooth University, Maynooth, Republic of Ireland. Contact author: Ian.Marder@mu.ie.
Article

Exploring amenability of a restorative justice approach to address sexual offences

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Restorative justice, sexual abuse, victim-survivor, justice attitudes, gender
Authors Angela Hovey, BJ Rye and Courtney McCarney
AbstractAuthor's information

    This study aimed to explore current attitudes regarding the amenability of a restorative justice approach to addressing harms caused by sexual offences. A web-based survey of a university student sample included a specific narrative response question assessing empathetic responses to stepfather-teen sexual abuse scenarios. Many (78 per cent) participants endorsed a restorative justice approach, a substantial minority (19 per cent) of whom endorsed restorative justice while stipulating retributive justice conditions. Only 22 per cent completely rejected a restorative justice approach. The overarching theme was the dichotomous opinion of restorative justice as either a sufficient (e.g. best option, rehabilitative value) or insufficient (e.g. not enough punishment) response to addressing sexual offences. There was an overall self-reflective openness and willingness to consider a restorative justice approach to address sexual offences.


Angela Hovey
Angela Hovey, PhD, RSW, is an associate professor at the School of Social Work, Lakehead University, Orillia, Canada.

BJ Rye
BJ Rye, PhD, is an associate professor at the Departments of Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies, St Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada.

Courtney McCarney
Courtney McCarney, MSW, RSW is a graduate of the School of Social Work, Lakehead University, Orillia, Canada. Contact author: Angela Hovey at ahovey@lakeheadu.ca

Jacques Claessen
Jacques Claessen is an Associate Professor of Criminal Law and an Endowed Professor of Restorative Justice at Maastricht University and Honorary Judge at the District Court of Limburg, the Netherlands.

Albert Dzur
Albert Dzur is Distinguished Research Professor, Departments of Political Science and Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, USA.
Article

The adventure of the institutionalisation of restorative justice in Belgium

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2018
Keywords Restorative justice, institutionalisation, penal change, Belgium
Authors Anne Lemonne
AbstractAuthor's information

    At first glance, the adventure of restorative justice (RJ) in Belgium can be considered a real success story. At the turn of the 21st century, programmes oriented towards this justice model officially determined the criminal justice agenda. What were the key ideas that led to the conceptualisation of restorative justice in Belgium? Who were the main actors and agencies that carried them out? What were the main issues that led to the institutionalisation of restorative justice? What are the effects of its implementation on the Belgian criminal justice system in general? This article strives to present the main findings of a study on the basis of an extensive data collection effort and analysis targeting discourses and practices created by actors from the Belgian academic, scientific, political, administrative, social work and judicial spheres from the 1980s to 2015.


Anne Lemonne
Anne Lemonne is a researcher at the Department of Criminology, National Institute for Criminalistics and Criminology (NICC) and a member of the Centre de recherches criminologiques at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. Contact author: Anne.Lemonne@just.fgov.be.
Article

Access_open Adult reparation panels and offender-centric meso-communities: an answer to the conundrum

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Adult reparation panels, meso-community of care, concern and accountability, reintegration, restoration, surrogate familial bonds
Authors Darren J. McStravick
AbstractAuthor's information

    The community paradigm is continually cited as an important influence within restorative practices. However, this influence has not been sufficiently clarified. This article seeks to answer this conundrum by identifying a novel meso-community of care, concern and accountability that has been emerging as part of adult reparation panel procedures. This offender-centric community consists of traditionally secondary justice stakeholders led by criminal justice representative professionals including police officers and probation officials. It also includes lay volunteers and reparation programme officials dependent on state funding and cooperation. Professionalised panellists have led the development of surrogate familial bonds with offenders through the incorporation of a welfare ethos as part of case discourses. This care and concern approach has increased opportunities within case agreements for successful reintegration and rehabilitation. However, this article also acknowledges some concerns within panel processes in that, by attempting to increase accountability for harms caused, there is a danger that panellists are blurring the restorative lines between rehabilitation and genuine restoration and reparation.


Darren J. McStravick
Darren J. McStravick is a lecturer in Law, School of Law, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK. Contact author: D.mcstravick@kingston.ac.uk.
Editorial

Access_open Legal Control on Social Control of Sex Offenders in the Community: A European Comparative and Human Rights Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords social control, folk devils, moral panic, dangerousness, sex offenders
Authors Michiel van der Wolf (Issue Editor)
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper provides first of all the introduction to this special issue on ‘Legal constraints on the indeterminate control of “dangerous” sex offenders in the community: A European comparative and human rights perspective’. The issue is the outcome of a study that aims at finding the way legal control can not only be an instrument but also be a controller of social control. It is explained what social control is and how the concept of moral panic plays a part in the fact that sex offenders seem to be the folk devils of our time and subsequently pre-eminently the target group of social control at its strongest. Further elaboration of the methodology reveals why focussing on post-sentence (indeterminate) supervision is relevant, as there are hardly any legal constraints in place in comparison with measures of preventive detention. Therefore, a comparative approach within Europe is taken on the basis of country reports from England and Wales, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain. In the second part of the paper, the comparative analysis is presented. Similar shifts in attitudes towards sex offenders have led to legislation concerning frameworks of supervision in all countries but in different ways. Legal constraints on these frameworks are searched for in legal (sentencing) theory, the principles of proportionality and least intrusive means, and human rights, mainly as provided in the European Convention on Human Rights to which all the studied countries are subject. Finally, it is discussed what legal constraints on the control of sex offenders in the community are (to be) in place in European jurisdictions, based on the analysis of commonalities and differences found in the comparison.


Michiel van der Wolf (Issue Editor)
Ph.D., LL.M, M.Sc., Reader in Criminal Law (Theory) and Forensic Psychiatry at the Erasmus School of Law; Member of the Editorial Board of the Erasmus Law Review.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The Spanish Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Supervised release, supervision, sex offenders, dangerousness, safety measures, societal upheaval, proportionality
Authors Lucía Martínez Garay and Jorge Correcher Mira
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents an overview of the legal regime provided in the Spanish system of criminal sanctions regarding the control of dangerous sex offenders in the community. It focuses on the introduction, in 2010, of a post-prison safety measure named supervised release. We describe the context of its introduction in the Spanish Criminal Code, considering the influence of societal upheaval concerning dangerous sex offenders in its development, and also the historical and theoretical features of the Spanish system of criminal sanctions. We also analyse the legal framework of supervised release, the existing case law about it and how the legal doctrine has until now assessed this measure. After this analysis, the main aim of this article consists in evaluating the effectiveness and the proportionality of the measure, according to the principle of minimal constraints and the rehabilitative function of the criminal sanctions in Spanish law, stated in Article 25.2 of the Spanish Constitution.


Lucía Martínez Garay
Lucía Martínez Garay is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Valencia, Department of Criminal Law.

Jorge Correcher Mira
Jorge Correcher Mira, Ph.D., is an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Valencia, Department of Criminal Law.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The German Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Supervision, twin track system, principle of proportionality, human rights, violent and sex offenders
Authors Bernd-Dieter Meier
AbstractAuthor's information

    After release from prison or a custodial preventive institution, offenders may come under supervision in Germany, which means that their conduct is controlled for a period of up to five years or even for life by a judicial supervising authority. Supervision is terminated if it can be expected that even in the absence of further supervision the released person will not commit any further offences. From the theoretical point of view, supervision is not considered a form of punishment in Germany, but a preventive measure that is guided by the principle of proportionality. After a presentation of the German twin track system of criminal sanctions and a glimpse at sentencing theory, the capacity of the principle of proportionality to guide and control judicial decisions in the field of preventive sanctions is discussed. The human rights perspective plays only a minor role in the context of supervision in Germany.


Bernd-Dieter Meier
Prof. Dr. Bernd-Dieter Meier is the Chair in Criminal Law and Criminology at the Law Faculty of Leibniz University Hannover.
Article

Access_open Legal Constraints on the Indeterminate Control of ‘Dangerous’ Sex Offenders in the Community: The French Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Preventive detention, mandatory supervision, sex offenders, retrospective penal laws, legality principle
Authors Martine Herzog-Evans
AbstractAuthor's information

    France literally ‘discovered’ sexual abuse following neighbour Belgium’s Dutroux case in the late 1990s. Since then, sex offenders have been the focus of politicians, media and law-makers’ attention. Further law reforms have aimed at imposing mandatory supervision and treatment, and in rare cases, preventive detention. The legal framework for mandatory supervision and detention is rather complex, ranging from a mixed sentence (custodial and mandatory supervision and treatment upon release or as a stand-alone sentence) to so-called ‘safety measures’, which supposedly do not aim at punishing an offence, but at protecting society. The difference between the concepts of sentences and safety measures is nevertheless rather blurry. In practice, however, courts have used safety measures quite sparingly and have preferred mandatory supervision as attached to a sentence, notably because it is compatible with cardinal legal principles. Procedural constraints have also contributed to this limited use. Moreover, the type of supervision and treatment that can thus be imposed is virtually identical to that of ordinary probation. It is, however, noteworthy that a higher number of offenders with mental health issues who are deemed ‘dangerous’ are placed in special psychiatric units, something that has not drawn much attention on the part of human rights lawyers.


Martine Herzog-Evans
Martine H-Evans, PhD, is a Professor at the Department of Law, Universite de Reims Champagne-Ardenne.
Article

Can Imprisonment Be Cheaper? The Case for Private Prisons

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2015
Keywords costs, criminal law, law and economics, private prisons, privatization
Authors Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko
AbstractAuthor's information

    Custody is the most expensive method of punishment in the Western world, as compared to other alternatives. Although expensive, prison is an indispensible instrument to deal with judgement proof or dangerous offenders. Hence, by using the law and economics approach, this article explores prison privatization as an instrument for less expensive incarceration. This method has the potential to reduce the prison costs without hampering its quality. However, a restructuring of the current contracts is needed to achieve this purpose. The attention given to the topic of private prisons by the law and economics scholars, especially in the European context, is limited, and this article attempts to fill this gap. The present article applies arguments from the bureaucracy and political science literature to explain the inefficiencies of public prisons. Subsequently, the potential problems of private prisons are presented through the principle-agent model and solutions are offered.


Elena Kantorowicz-Reznichenko
Rotterdam Institute of Law & Economics (RILE), Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
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