Post-Adjudication Dispositions in
Post-adjudication dispositions include sentencing, enforcement of sanctions, and corrections. A cross-sectional look at post-adjudication dispositions may promote understanding of trends in sanctions systems, how and why certain types of penalties spread, what forces operate when new sanctions are adopted, and how criminal sanctions are implemented and to what end. The last of these deserves particular attention because sanctions such as imprisonment, fines, and community service may operate differently in relation to links between policymaking and implementation.
It is common to hear that broad international trends can be observed in the reform systems of criminal sanctions. However, it is less likely that there are common trends in sanctions practice than in discussions of sentencing, sanctions, and corrections. A 1997 collection of essays dealing with trends in criminal law, for example, assumes a broad common trend in criminal sanctions (Tiedemann 1997). This trend is seen in the abolition and marginalization of short prison terms and in the introduction of substitutes such as community service, weekend imprisonment, and fines. Note is taken of the abolition of traditional shaming penalties and of new concerns to interdict professional activities or the revocation of professional licenses in cases of serious economic crimes. Finally, new conceptions of corporate liability and corporate penalties are identified as common elements in changing systems of criminal sanctions.
However, the changes are more apparent than real. Certainly, use of short-term imprisonment has been sharply reduced in Germany and Austria. But, in the rest of Europe, short-term imprisonment is used as often today as before. Even in Austria and Germany, many more offenders are sentenced to imprisonment (conditional and unconditional) of less than six months than to one year or more. Day fines have succeeded in replacing imprisonment in various western European countries, but that trend came to a stop some ten years ago. Community service has been introduced in various European countries, as have weekend imprison-