Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Prison project

The Prison project investigates to what extent imprisonment has consequences for the relapse, the health, the career and the intimate relations of the (ex-)prisoners.

Paul Nieuwbeerta
The Prison Project is financed by the 'Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek' (NWO), Leiden University, the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and Utrecht University.
  • The Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR)
  • Utrecht University


Imprisonment is currently the most severe sanction meted out in the criminal justice systems of European nations. In most country‚Äôs the imprisonment rate has increased in the past decades. In the Netherlands more than 40.000 people are locked up in prison of a detention centre every year. Despite its manifest importance in crime prevention, there is however surprisingly little knowledge on the (collateral) effects of imprisonment.


PRISONPROJECT.NL examines the consequences effects of incarceration on criminal behavior and various other life course circumstances (e.g. socio-economic status, social integration, health and family relations) of convicted persons and their family members. Furthermore, attention will be paid to the sentencing practice, prison experience and aid in prison. The research will contain 2000 convicted persons of 28 Dutch prisons. Potential spouses and children of these convicted persons will also be interviewed as well as the employees and helpers of the prisons. In this way, an complete image will be presented about the effects of imprisonment.


The aims of PRISONPROJECT.NL are:
- to provide comprehension of the effect of imprisonment on recidivism
- to provide comprehension of the effect of imprisonment on other life spheres
- to collect information about views and opinions of (ex-)convicted persons, prison staff and helpers about imprisonment and its accomplishment.

Research Design

The aims will be accomplished by analyzing a unique longitudinal dataset containing four measurements. That implies that participants (convicted persons) will be asked to participate four times during the research period (three years). The will be interviewed before, during and after there imprisonment. A comparable group of persons who received a community sanction will be investigated in this same manner. With this design, it is possible to investigate to what extent the life course of the participants has changed after their punishment. In addition, the effect of imprisonment will be examined on the life course of (ex-) convicted persons.

PRISONPROJECT.NL is a joint project of the Leiden University, the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), and the Utrecht University.

For more information, please visit our website (in Dutch).

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