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Legitimacy and Effectiveness of Sentencing and Corrections


Entry requirements

Students who want to take this course need to be admitted to the master’s programme in Criminal Justice.

Brief course description

This course will familiarise students with the history, structure and performance of Dutch as well as international sentencing and correctional systems. Moreover, recent developments in sentencing law and practice will be discussed, thereby offering students a state-of-the-art insight into converging and diverging trends in sentencing and corrections within an international context. “Sentencing” is the process by which criminal sanctions are imposed in individual cases following a criminal conviction. The term “corrections” deals with the implementation and evaluation of criminal sentences after they are handed down. In fact, the two subject areas are inseparable. This course will examine sentencing and corrections from international and historical perspectives, from the viewpoint of legal sentencing structures and substantive laws on sentencing, from theoretical and policy perspectives, and with close attention to many problem-specific areas. Students will be invited to explore sentencing theories and their application, the nature, scope and function of corrections, the impact of mass incarceration on crime and communities, the effectiveness of rehabilitation, the relationship between sanctions and crime, and the consequences of prisoner re-entry. These topics will be considered as they play out in current political and policy debates. Guest lectures may include presentations by judges, prosecutors, victims, offenders, politicians and correctional officers.
Basic elements of the criminology curriculum will be integrated in the current course. Methodology and statistics of criminological research will be used in different group assignments. We will closely focus on the organisation of the correctional system and judicial policy in which there is room for integration of the different elements of justice, policy and organisation. Since punishment is an important intervention in the life course and criminal career of offenders, we will pay attention to another basic element of the criminology curriculum, namely the development of criminal behaviour.

Learning objectives

Objectives of the course
The aim of this course is to familiarise students with the history, structure and performance of the Dutch sentencing and correctional system placed in its historical and international context.

Achievement levels
Upon completion of this course, students should: – Have knowledge of the history, structure and performance of the Dutch sentencing and correctional system – Have knowledge of normative and explanatory theories of sentencing and corrections – Be able to describe and explain differences is sentencing measures – Have knowledge of and be able to explain differences in the effectiveness of correctional measures


Kies voor bachelor en master.


The current course will differ from traditional courses both in organisation and content. Students are required to attend weekly meetings lasting a full day, which will consist of different elements. The first element is a more traditional lecture. Students are expected to prepare for these lectures by reading the literature assigned. At the end of this lecture a group assignment will be handed out. Students then have the rest of the day to work on this assignment. The assignment can vary in nature and content during the course. In the afternoon students and instructors come together for another meeting. Group assignments will be presented, and discussions will be held. Students will be judged on their active participation during these meetings.


  • Attend and actively participate in mandatory weekly lectures – Group portfolio consisting of weekly group assignments – Attend a fieldtrip – Examination in the form of an individually written essay

Course grades are determined by:
Group portfolio (30%)
Written essay (70%)

  • Weekly meetings and fieldtrip must be attended in order to pass this course.

  • All assignments must be submitted via safe assign (Blackboard)


Bij dit vak wordt gebruik gemaakt van Blackboard.


Assigned literature and the course guideline, both of which will be published on Blackboard.


Students can enroll for this course via uSis.


Course instructor: Prof. Paul Nieuwbeerta

Institute: Criminal Law and Criminology
Department: Criminology
Opening hours: 09.00 to 12.30
Telephone secretarat: 071 – 527 74 62


Contract teaching

Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.