The conditional prison sentence

Pauline Aarten MSc

Prof. dr. Peter van der Laan & prof. mr. Matthias Borgers (promotors),
mr. dr.Jean-Louis van Gelder (co-promotor)

When a convicted offender is sentenced to prison, the court can impose that sentence as (partially) conditional. Probation is given to the offender during which (s)he generally has to meet several conditions, beyond refraining from criminal conduct, that have been specified by the court. Non-compliance with these conditions may lead to the revocation of the sentence by the court at the request of the public prosecutor. The court may partially revoke the conditional sentence, extend the probation period or add or change the conditions attached to the sentence. The past decades have shown a substantial increase in the number of conditional sentencing possibilities in the Dutch criminal justice system. This raises the question how these developments are perceived by stakeholders and how their perceptions influence the imposition and execution (by prosecutors, judges and probation officers) of such sentences and the willingness to comply with the conditions (by convicted offenders).

In this project the request, imposition, execution and compliance with the conditional prison sentence, as well as perceptions of the professional actors and convicted offenders are examined. The aims of this project are threefold: First, the perceptions of the prosecutors, judges and probation officers on this type of sanctioning are examined  as well as how these perceptions affect the imposition and execution of that sentence. Second, this project will examine how and to what extent the perceptions of 500 convicted offenders who received a conditional prison sentence lead to (non-)compliance with that sentence. These convicted offenders will be followed for a period of two years. Finally, we will make an overview of all conditional prison sentences imposed in Amsterdam since 2009 and onwards from the databases of the Prosecution Office (COMPAS) and the Probation Service Amsterdam (CVS). We will use multiple methods (such as interviews and surveys), and both quantitative and qualitative data to answer the research questions in this project.

This PhD project is part of a collaboration between the NSCR and VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Law.