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Penal policy and practice in Belgium.

Snacken, Sonja
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Crime and Justice. 36(1): 127-216.

Belgian imprisonment rates increased from sixty-five to ninety-five per 100,000 population in the past quarter century,
and the use of pretrial detention and long prison sentences increased. Notorious crimes, most prominently the Dutroux
case, produced mass demonstrations, and a right-wing political party repeatedly urged harsher policies. In contrast to the
United States and England, however, and although criminal justice policy became more politicized, Belgium did not
adopt primarily expressive crime policies. Instead, a process of bifurcation resulted in expansion of prosecutorial diversions,
prison alternatives, mediation, and restorative justice initiatives for less serious offenses and longer sentences
for the most serious offenses. The main political parties continued to adopt pragmatic positions and balanced policies.
Belgian policy makers continued to rely on expert advice, the emergence of a victims movement did not polarize the
politics of crime control, and the influence of the human rights movement, embodied particularly in the European Convention
and Court of Human Rights, steadily grew. (Author’s Abstract)


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