Sanctions Cluster

The members of this cluster study the entire range of judicial sanctions that restrain offenders’ freedom: besides research on imprisonment as the most extreme form of deprivation of liberty, attention is paid to less restrictive sanctions like restraining orders, stadium bans, expulsions from a profession, community service, probation supervision, and electronic monitoring. This cluster not only concentrates on the offenders who experience these various types of restrains, but also on the different actors within the criminal as well as the civil and administrative justice system who impose and execute these sanctions (e.g. public prosecutors, judges, prison staff, probation officers, inspectorates, and other local and administrative authorities).

Theoretical perspectives and research topics

This cluster employs normative theories on why societies impose such sanctions and how the ideas regarding sentencing change over time. Research also assesses empirical facts such as the determinants of sentencing, examining why (criminal) justice actors and other authorities impose sanctions on offenders in specific circumstances, as well as on how those sentenced perceive their punishment. Finally, a research line within this cluster deals with the intended and unintended effects of imprisonment and other restraining sanctions such as probation supervision and community service orders on future criminal behaviour as well as on other life-course outcomes (like labour market prospects, financial situation, health, social networks, and offenders’ partners and children). Bonta’s What Works approach in combination with the Good Lives Model is applied to explain the (absence of) effectiveness of sanctions. The life-course perspective will help to disentangle and understand the interrelationships between these life domains, and their link with criminal behaviour.

Data sources

This cluster uses a variety of data (e.g. registered data on offenders’ criminal behaviour and on decisions of criminal justice actors, survey data, data from structured and in depth interviews, data from participating observation, and field experiments). Combining different theoretical perspectives and using these different research methods, the research of this cluster will enhance current knowledge on the aims, execution and effects of freedom restraining sanctions.



Cluster members

  • Anja Dirkzwager (coordinator)
  • Arjan Blokland
  • Barbora Holá
  • Peter van der Laan
  • Marijke Malsch
  • Elanie Rodermond
  • Steve van de Weijer


Susan Dennison (Griffith University),
Holly Smallbone (Griffith University),
Stuart Kinner (University of Melbourne)

(Inter)national collaborations

Cluster members collaborate with:
Leiden University
University of Amsterdam
Ghent University
NIVEL (Utrecht)
Griffith University
University of Bern

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