Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Perceptions of Magistrates and Public Opinion Related to Community Sanctions

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Perceptions of Magistrates and Public Opinion Related to Community Sanctions

Article excerpt

Abstract: The paper is intended to make an analysis of the way in which the public opinion and the magistrates from the penal law system relate to the community sanctions and measures, within the context in which several international regulations highlight the necessity to implement these community sanctions and measures extensively in the domestic legislation of the member states. The paper also shows the importance of the political factor in the practical implementation of the regulations and the way in which the governmental decision factors influence the perception at the level of the public opinion and of the magistrates.

Keywords: Community sanctions, community measures, public opinion, magistrates

Introduction

The recent decades witnessed several essential changes in the correctional systems, which included a rethinking of their mission, of the methods of intervention and of their role within the broader process of rehabilitation of the offenders (Iancu M.A., 2010, Oancea G., Faur A.S., 2009, Abraham P., Nicolaescu D., 2006).

These transformations aimed to increase the visibility of the community sanctions, as well as to allow a reflection of the academic environment and of the practicians within the systems of penal law regarding the efficiency of this type of sanctions. These concerns were directed towards several aspects such as the adequacy of these sanctions or the identification of the particular way of sanctioning which ensure both the requirement of public protection and of the social reintegration of the people in conflict with the penal law (Nicolaescu V., Sandu O., 2009).

Community sanctions - challenging approaches

Since we will constantly refer to the notion of community sanctions, as well because of reasons of terminological rigorousness, we will define this concept.

As far as we are concerned, we consider that the definition given by the Council of Europe Ministerial Committee in Regulation (92)16 regarding the European rules in matter of community sanctions and measures (still) meets the requirements of a proper definition given to this notion.

Thus, the term of community sanctions and measures refers to those sanctions or measures applied by legally appointed institutions, which presume maintaining the offender within the community and involve restrictions on his/her liberty by imposing conditions and/or obligations.

The appearance of this type of sanctions within the sphere of penal punishment relies, among other, on several observations done in time on the inadequacy of the punishment which deprives the people of liberty, the imprisonment.

The imprisonment, which appeared within the sphere of the correctional institutions some two centuries ago, was to become, rather shortly, the main penal punishment for the offenders.

It is important to highlight the fact that the programmatic purpose of this punishment was not the mere isolation of the offenders from the rest of the community, but their inclusion in an environment which allowed interventions with the purpose to change the offending behaviour. In other words, as Foucault (2005) mentioned, the punishment of imprisonment was not directed towards the body of the convict, rather to his/her soul.

During the two centuries of existence, the way in which the punishment of imprisonment was applied underwent several essential changes, circumscribed to a process designed as punishment polishing (Pratt, 2002).

These transformations aimed the increasingly visible involvement of practicians in the field of socio-human sciences (psychologists, social workers etc.) within the process of rehabilitation of the offenders which take place within the penitentiary, granting elementary rights to the convicts and monitoring their observance by the administration of the penitentiaries, or the establishment of a framework within which the dignity of the inmate is respected.

Despite these progresses, the liberty-depriving punishments continue to have an adverse impact on the self of the inmates, being under constant criticism, criticism which accompanied these punishments from the very moment of their application (Brown, 2009; Foucault, 2005). …

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