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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.
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