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Artikel

Understanding judges’ choices of sentence types as interpretative work: An explorative study in a Dutch police court

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 1 2016
Trefwoorden Judicial decision-making, sentencing type, (ir)redeemability, whole case approach
Auteurs Peter Mascini, Irene van Oorschot PhD, Assistant professor Don Weenink e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article critically evaluates the prevailing factor-oriented (e.g. a priori defined legal and extralegal characteristics of defendants) approach in analyses of judicial decision-making. Rather than assuming such factors, we aim to demonstrate how Dutch judges engage in interpretative work to arrive at various sentence types. In their interpretative work, judges attempt to weigh and compare various legal and extralegal features of defendants. Importantly, they do so in the context of the case as a whole, which means that these features do not have independent or fixed meanings. Judges select and weigh information to create an image of defendants’ redeemability. However, extralegal concerns other than redeemability also inform judges’ decisions. We argue that studying the naturally occurring interpretative work of judges results in a better understanding of judicial decision-making than outcome-oriented studies, which view criminal cases as collections of independent legal and extralegal factors.


Peter Mascini
Peter Mascini holds a chair in Empirical Legal Studies at the Erasmus School of Law of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, where he is also associate professor of sociology at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. His research focuses on the legitimization, implementation, and enforcement of laws and policies.

Irene van Oorschot PhD
Irene van Oorschot is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of the Social Sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and will soon start as a postdoctoral researcher at the Anthropology Department of the University of Amsterdam. Drawing on actor network theory and feminist studies of knowledge, her research focuses on legal and scientific modes of truth-production.

Assistant professor Don Weenink
Don Weenink is assistant professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. He has published work on, among other subjects, ethnic inequalities in judicial sentencing.

Gratiëlla Schippers
Gratiëlla Schippers has studied Sociology at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. For her master thesis she has done research about the understanding of judges’ choices of sentence types.

    This paper analyses the association between rural youth violence, drinking alcohol in the weekend and going to the pub, as compared to their peers in more urbanized areas. In addition, the paper analyses whether the gender gap in the use of violence is larger for rural youth. Based on self-report data of 5,062 youngsters aged 14-22 years old, two forms of violence were analysed. The first concerns physical violence: fighting, hitting someone resulting in medical treatment and wounding someone with a weapon. The second comprises behaviour that prepares for the use of violence: threatening and carrying a weapon. These two forms of violence were related to two types of rural areas on the basis of population density. It turned out that youngsters living in the least densely populated areas were not less likely to have engaged in physical violence whereas their peers in more densely populated rural areas had somewhat lower chances to do so. Concerning behaviour that prepares for violence, the analyses showed that in both rural areas, youth were slightly less likely to have engaged in such behaviour. Furthermore, the association between drinking alcohol and the use of physical violence was stronger for youth living in both rural areas. The results also indicate that the gender gap in youth violence is not larger for rural youth. The paper concludes that future research should inquire the specific meanings of alcohol and violence in rural youth culture. Such research should take the diversity of rural areas into account, rather than relying on measures of population density only.


D. Weenink
Dr. Don Weenink is als hoofddocent verbonden aan de Rural Sociology Group van de Universiteit Wageningen. Dit artikel is onderdeel van een onderzoek naar geweld onder jongeren, ondersteund door een NWO Venibeurs.

    The central question of this article is how situational crime prevention (SCP) might be of help in preventing terrorism. Newman and Clarke's Policing Terrorism is confronted with investigations by the Dutch National Crime Squad, leading to the conclusion that Newman and Clarke have too narrow a scope on policing and preventing terrorism, in particular where it comes to the role of criminal investigation, which they narrow down to the phases immediately before and after a terrorist attack. Case files show that offender-oriented criminal investigation has a central role in the prevention of terrorism in several respects. First, criminal investigators intervene in earlier phases of terrorist preparation. Second, counter-terrorism targets a wide range of terrorist offences (e.g. terrorist financing and jihad travel) which often have no direct link to a terrorist assault plan. ‘Proactive repression’ seems an adequate term to characterise the preventive work of criminal investigators in this field. In turn, this work offers insights that might be of help in developing an SCP-approach to terrorism. Such an approach should start with recognizing that there is a diversity of terrorist offences and that each offence demands a crime specific script.


A.W. Weenink
Dr. Anton Weenink is als senior onderzoeker werkzaam bij het Korps landelijke politiediensten (KLPD). Hij schreef deze bijdrage op persoonlijke titel.

    In the years 2000-2003 crime on Curaçao seemed to be going out of control and the economy was virtually stagnant with low growth and high unemployment. This situation has changed significantly since 2005. The author shows that a targeted approach by the authorities pushed back major crime problems like the smuggling of cocaine on passenger flights, armed robberies and homicides. However only a permanent effort can guarantee the continuation of this success. Corruption and nepotism are still vibrant, but mainly concern individuals, not institutions as a whole, while the judiciary actively prosecutes corrupt officials. In the long run not only repression, but preventive measures are needed as well. A major cause of corruption and nepotism is the small scale of island life, in combination with economic protectionism and state ownership of companies. Structural adjustments in economic institutions and policy in recent years heralded the return of economic growth and employment. More adjustments in economic policy and institutions could further reduce incentives for corruption; these might also lead to the opening up of Curaçao's rigid labour markets for the many unemployed youngsters. A more autonomous Curaçao faces serious challenges, but the island's record so far gives no reason for despondency.


A.W. Weenink
Dr. Anton Weenink is senior onderzoeker bij de Dienst Nationale Recherche van het Korps Landelijke Politiediensten (KLPD).
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