Criminal Justice: Legitimacy, Accountability and Effectivity
1 April 2009 saw the start of the Law Schools newest research programme. The programme, entitled Criminal Justice: Legitimacy, Accountability and Effectivity, aims to bring together researchers from fields such as criminal law, criminology, law and economics, psychology and law, and the sociology of law.
Coördinators: prof. C.P.M. Cleiren
The concept of ‘Criminal Justice’ has existed in the Anglo-Saxon world since the 1920s. The concept alludes to the system of principles, rules, practices and institutions through which the state makes sanctions against socially undesirable behaviour. These sanctions are then implemented, taking into account the relevant criteria relating to justice. The concept of ‘Criminal Justice’ presupposes – and here lies its strength – that legislation, policy, police practices, jurisprudence, etc., are considered as one integrated system. The concept also presupposes that the study of criminality, and how this is handled, cannot and should not be separated from one another. It demands a multidisciplinary approach where use is made of the expertise that has been built up by the related disciplines within legal studies and criminology. The empiric study of criminality, how this is handled, and related normative questions can be directly related to one another and to social developments.
In the Criminal Justice: Legitimacy, Accountability, and Effectivity research programme, the key question addressed is “How does one ensure now and in the future that legislation, prevention, detection, maintenance, judgment and sanctions are in congruence with one another?” A key question indeed considering at the same time, these aspects have to correlate with the findings of criminology and the forensic sciences, with the internationalisation of law, with the demands and ideals of the legal state, with social developments, with the expectations of the citizen and with the requirements of effectivity.
Contained within the research aspect, criminality and the approach to this are studied from an integrated legal and social-scientific perspective. The importance of such an approach to one of the major societal problems of our time – socially undesirable behaviour (in a broad sense) – is considerable, both from the view of societal interests and from a scientific perspective. Moreover, both the approach to criminality, and that which is defined as punishable, alongside the extent of criminality and the way in which it is carried out, are continually changing. The study of the dynamics of criminality and the reactions to them, as well as the interchange between them, benefit from this integrated approach.