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Deterrence versus procedural justice. Successfully reducing reoffending

NSCR researcher Anja Dirkzwager, together with Peter van der Laan and Paul Nieuwbeerta, has received a grant in the NWO Open Competition for the project Deterrence versus procedural justice. Successfully reducing reoffending. The research is a collaboration with Leiden University and contributes to NSCR research into the objectives, realisation and effects of criminal sanctions that limit the freedom of an offender.
By Dr Dr Anja Dirkzwager | 10 October 2019 | Sanctions

An important aim of imposing sanctions is preventing people who have already committed crimes from breaking the law again. However, worldwide, the figures for reoffending are high. Usually, the criminal law system assumes that criminals will reoffend less if they perceive sanctions as (more) severe and if they feel they have been treated (more) fairly and respectfully. These assumptions are based on two well-known criminological theories: the deterrence theory and the procedural justice theory. The correctness of these assumptions has not been investigated yet. The project “Deterrence versus procedural justice. Successfully reducing reoffending” investigates these ideas among detainees.

Consequences of perceived severity of sanctions and perceived perceptions of treatment

The overarching aim of the research is to assess to what extent the deterrence and procedural justice theories hold for detainees. Does the severity of the sanction and treatment of the detainees correlate with their probability of reoffending? Is one of these two factors more important for reducing reoffending than the other? Is a respectful treatment by the judge just as important as a respectful treatment by the prison staff? These are some of the questions the research focuses on. In the research, both the determinants and consequences of the perceived severity of the sanction and the way in which the treatment is perceived will be investigated.

Detainees followed from the start of their detention until six months after their release

In the project, quantitative, qualitative and observational research are combined. Use will be made of previously collected data from the large-scale longitudinal Prison Project. In addition, two PhDs will set up and realise a new longitudinal data collection in which they will follow a number of detainees from the start of their detention until six months after their release. The PhDs will repeatedly interview these persons and observe their contacts with various actors from the legal system, such as the public prosecutor, judge and prison staff.

 

Dr Dr Anja Dirkzwager

Senior Researcher

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