Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Criminal Justice: Legitimacy, Accountability and Effectivity

How can and should tasks and competences for the purpose of the criminal justice system (i.e. legislation, enforcement, the administration of justice and sentencing) be defined and formulated, while at the same time taking into account the chain concept, adjoining national and international legal domains and standards arising from the democratic rule of law (i.e. legitimacy, accountability and effectivity)?

2016  -   2021
Jeroen ten Voorde

Criminal Justice’ can be described as the collection of principles, regulations and legislation, types of interventions (i.e. practices) and institutions, by which – in the context of the democratic rule of law – the authorities sanction or ought to sanction socially undesirable behaviour and enforces or ought to enforce these sanctions. This description alludes to and provides the thematic framework for the Criminal Justice research programme.

Criminal justice system

The Crimal Justice research programme is thus essentially focused on the content and form of the decisions that are, could be and may be taken in the criminal justice system on the basis of the tasks and conferred competences and that are valued in the context of the democratic rule of law. Decisions relating to criminal procedure are taken by various actors in various phases of the criminal justice procedure and affect legislation as well as prevention, investigation, enforcement, adjudication, implementation of sanctions and ‘after care’. These decisions are not only chronologically sequential, but in an idealised sense, could also be considered as a chain i.e. closely linked, interdependent, synchronised and balanced.

Metaphor of a chain

In the context of these decisions, the chain principle implies that the actors’ assigned tasks and conferred competences are tailored to their role in the system as a whole, which should be interpreted to include the European/international legal systems as well. Although there are drawbacks to the metaphor of a chain, it serves as an important anchor point in Criminal Justice research. A streamlined regulated chain would, after all, enhance the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. However, there is no guarantee that a well-regulated chain will meet the standards that apply in a globalising democracy based on the rule of law.

Research in the field of Criminal Justice therefore makes it necessary also to take into account the perspective of the democratic rule of law, which in the Criminal Justice programme concentrates on the notions of legitimacy, accountability and effectivity (or effectiveness). Legitimacy relates to acceptance from the perspective of the democratic rule of law as well as support for and the authority of the judicial system and the actors and private citizens involved (and affected). Accountability relates to the responsibility of judicial professionals to carry out their work transparently and thus make it visible that they are performing their public task as it should be done. Effectivity concerns the matter of the extent to which legislation, enforcement, interventions and sanctions produce effects – both intended and unintended.

Academic Staff

PhD Candidates

External PhD Candidates

Connection with other research

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