Chair: Kirstin Drenkhahn

Penal cultures on the Continent – comparing France and Germany

Building: E
Room: 01


Author: Kirstin Drenkhahn, Freie Universität Berlin

Fabien Jobard, Centre Marc Bloch/CNRS; Tobias Singelnstein, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Title: Penal Cultures on the Continent –Outline of the Project
Punishment and crime are aspects of communal life that play a central role in all societies and whose importance has increased significantly in recent years. Nevertheless, the role of punishment is shaped distinctly both in different countries and in different segments of society. It is understood and used differently by the media, politics and the populace. The project “Penal Cultures on the Continent – France and Germany in Comparison” aims at identifying and analysing commonalities and variations in the use of punishment in Germany and France in these segments as well as their interactions, which are considered to be formative for the penal culture of society. The presentation provides an outline of the project.
Keywords: punishment & scoiety, punitiveness, comparative research
Author: Kirstin Drenkhahn, Freie Universität Berlin

Fabien Jobard, Centre Marc Bloch/CNRS
Title: How Would You Decide? Findings From a Population Survey About Punishment in France and Germany
Penal law reforms that criminalize formerly non-criminal behavior, enlarge the scope of offences or introduce possibilities of harsher punishment are often justified with needs of the population: needs for more security or needs for justice to be done. Likewise, accusations against the judiciary to be too lenient are backed up with what is perceived as common sense and a normal need for justice – a.k.a. what the populations thinks. This paints a picture of normal people as favoring harsh, retributive justice and harsh, retributive justice as being normal. But is it? And are they? As part of the project “Penal Cultures on the Continent”, we did a representative online survey among the general population in France and Germany on attitudes towards punishment. Using vignettes that describe cases of petty crime, respondents were asked to choose how to deal with the offenders. The presentation reports findings on selected cases.
Keywords: attitudes towards punishment, population survey,
Author: Johanna Nickels, Freie Universität Berlin

Title: Quantitative Study of Punitive Tendencies in Criminal Law Legislation
Although there is general consent on the fact that punitivity can be observed in different forms and contexts, imprisonment rates still persist as the standard indicator in comparative research. As part of the project Penal Culture on the Continent, this presentation seeks to show new perspectives for the assessment of punitive tendencies by focusing on the legislative level. Using a quantitative approach, it develops an innovative tool for the analysis and assessment of changes in criminal and criminal procedure law in France and Germany. The quantitative design allows for the incorporation of all legal changes in both countries within the last 25 years. Besides its main focus on tracking, inter alia, changes in the range of criminal penalties or the rights of the offender, the tool also addresses the question of the influence of the European Union legal framework on French and German criminal and criminal procedure legislation. Data generated with this instrument will bring valuable contributions to comparative research on punitivity. Above all, it may shed light on similarities and differences in national tendencies in domestic criminal and criminal procedure legislation. This information could be used for (comparative) testing of prevailing assumptions on the development of legislative punitivity and its contributing factors.
Keywords: punitivity, criminal law legislation, criminal policy
Author: Elena Zum-Bruch, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Title: Instrument of Criminal Policy and Voice of the Concerned? on the Sense of Responsibility of Journalists in Crime and Security Issues Reporting
The media is an important factor influencing the formation of public opinion and the success of political projects. They can serve as a platform for politics as well as a mouthpiece for citizens; they can act as a counterweight to the state as well as a regulator of social trends. Such an intermediate position inevitably represents an area of tension, especially when it comes to reporting on crime and security issues, and since Cologne's New Year's Eve 2015/16 the German media have been confronted with many accusations that have considerably exacerbated this. But how is this field of tension perceived in practice? How are the accusations of on the one head the lying press and the lack of political correctness on the other dealt with within the editorial offices? And how do media representatives view their responsibility towards politics and society when they report on crime and security? Based on findings from 20 expert interviews with journalists from various German print and TV media, the presentation aims at answering these questions and discusses to what extent media can contribute to the emergence and legitimization of punitive social and criminal policy tendencies.
Keywords: punitiveness, crime & media, public opinion
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