Universiteit Leiden

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Esther van Ginneken

Assistant professor

Dr. E.F.J.C. van Ginneken
+31 71 527 2827

Esther van Ginneken is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology at Leiden University.

More information about Esther van Ginneken

Esther van Ginneken is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology at Leiden University.

She has a background in social science (BA Liberal Arts & Sciences, University College Utrecht) and has completed an MPhil in Criminology at the University of Cambridge. She obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge; her thesis was entitled The pains and gains of imprisonment, about the prison experience and preparation for release of male and female prisoners. Before joining the Faculty at Leiden University, Esther worked as Lecturer in Criminology at Liverpool Hope University (2013 to 2016).


Esther’s research connects different disciplines, research areas and methods. For her PhD research she conducted in-depth interviews and drew from sociological and psychological perspectives to gain an understanding of adaptation to imprisonment. She identified different patterns of adjustment and applied the framework of posttraumatic growth to understand the positive adjustment of a small group of female prisoners. Additionally, she studied prisoners’ narratives of desistance. She has received various awards for her Ph.D. thesis: the Salje Medal for the best Ph.D. in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (2013-2014) from Clare Hall and the Nigel Walker Prize (2014) for the best Criminology Ph.D. from the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge.

Other research projects she has worked on are the relationship between cell sharing and prison experience in the Netherlands, suicides in prisons in England and Wales, and the process of ceasing to commit crime (desistance). Esther co-edited a book on New Perspectives on Desistance, which was published in 2017 by Palgrave. She is involved as supervisor (co-promotor) of Jill van de Rijt’s PhD project on normalization in prison.

Lastly, Esther is involved as senior researcher with the Life in Custody study, which the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology carries out for the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency (part of the Ministry of Security and Justice). This survey research aims to improve our understanding of staff and prisoner perceptions and experiences of prison life, as well as the effects (during and after imprisonment) of differences in experiences of prison life. As part of the LIC-Study, Esther supervises two PhD projects: Amanda Pasma conducts research on the preparation of prisoners for release, and Jan Maarten Elbers studies the role of autonomy and cognitive abilities in the rehabilitation of prisoners.


In the academic year 2019-2020, Esther teaches the courses Crime, Criminalisation, and the Right to the City (BA Urban Studies), Research Proposal (MSc Comparative Criminal Justice), and Punishment & Prisons (MSc Comparative Criminal Justice). She is also academic coordinator of the MSc in Comparative Criminal Justice.

Assistant professor

  • Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid
  • Instituut voor Strafrecht & Criminologie
  • Criminologie

Work address

Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
Room number B 3.24



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