European Journal of Criminology

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Individual and environmental contributors to psychological distress during imprisonment

    People in prison bear a higher burden of psychiatric morbidity compared with the general population. This study examined the extent to which individual and environmental factors contribute to poor mental health during imprisonment. Participants comprised 1296 randomly selected adults in 15 Belgian prisons. Psychological distress was more common in women than men and peaked during the early stages of imprisonment. In addition to having a history of mental disorder, low levels of perceived autonomy, safety, and social support were independently associated with experiencing distress. These findings underscore the importance of considering the prison environment in policies to improve the mental health of incarcerated individuals.

  • Exceptionalism for most, excess for others: The legal foundation of a bifurcated criminal justice system in Denmark

    Following a change in the Danish gang milieu in 2008, where ethnic minority street gangs challenged the established outlaw motorcycle gangs, the Danish government has formulated three anti-gang policy ‘packages’. To unfold the development they represent to Nordic penology, this article analyses elements of both penal exceptionalism and excess. In this article, it is shown how the packages are based on the notion of gang membership as a choice, which legitimated the development of a parallel justice system for gang members. This foundation is built upon a gang-specific subsection that allows for the doubling of gang-related sentences and for restricting prisoner rights and traditional rehabilitative treatment for gang-related convicts. The packages, however, maintained ‘a way out’ for gang members who voluntarily entered a formal EXIT program, and thus gained access to traditional penal treatment and also support for leaving the gang milieu. It is argued that the packages represent a development of intended bifurcation based on status differentiation between citizen groups, a process also observed in regard to Danish anti-ghetto policies. Thus, rather than resembling a general turn to punitiveness, the packages indicate a penological development based on penal differentiation, which raises questions about access to justice for those found wanting.

  • Acting crazy: A strategy on the streets of Copenhagen

    US studies of street culture note that acting ‘crazy’ can provide status on the street, but rarely elaborate on this phenomenon. Based on several years of participant observation in the street culture of a disadvantaged part of Copenhagen, this article provides an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of ‘craziness’. It reveals that it is a nuanced and multifaceted phenomenon and that street actors can strategically act crazy to gain several advantages. It further explains how ‘craziness’ has to be tempered with other amiable characteristics to be beneficial in street culture, and how it can also be advantageous in dealings with state institutions, as well as a disadvantage in mainstream society.

  • Old habits die hard: Assessing the validity of using homicide as an indicator of other violent crimes

    Homicide statistics are often used as an indicator for violent crime more generally. In this work, we evaluate the empirical support for this convention in a Western European context, specifically the Netherlands. Using data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and from the Dutch Homicide Monitor, we compare homicide rates to rates of other violent crimes between 2010 and 2020. Results show that homicide and violent crimes are related in a general sense, but it is difficult to say what those relationships look like concretely. In other words, there is an empirical relationship between homicide and the overarching concept of violent crime, but relationships between homicide and individual violent crimes vary considerably. Based on these findings, we advise that researchers tread carefully when using homicide as an indicator of violent crime.

  • Origin stories: Framing 25 years of Dutch political discourse on child sexual exploitation by tourists and travelers

    Sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism (SECTT) has been described as a serious and growing problem. This study critically analyzes political debates and policy measures proposed by the Dutch government between 1995 and 2020 to combat SECTT. To understand how SECTT is framed in Dutch political discourse, Bacchi's ‘what's the problem represented to be?’ approach guided a systematic critical discourse analysis of over 200 political documents. Our analysis shows that SECTT has, over time, predominantly become framed as a crime problem. Offender detection, international cooperation, awareness raising, public–private partnerships, and prevention targeted at known sex offenders are the most commonly proposed solutions. Despite the focus on apprehending offenders, the political discourse offers no concrete clues as to who they are; still, conducting research or evaluating policies' effects is seldom proposed as a response. This problem representation overlooks the connections of SECTT with structural issues, such as victim vulnerabilities, colonization, and global inequality on the one hand, and mental health, sexual expression, and cultural values on the other.

  • Beyond the risk factors of sports-related match-fixing: Testing the applicability of situational action theory

    Despite the increasing academic interest in match-fixing, little is known about the behavioral determinants of this phenomenon. This study applies key theoretical concepts of situational action theory (SAT) to sportspersons’ decision-making process when confronted with sports-related match-fixing (SRMF) propositions. Using a factorial survey, amateur football players (n = 661), and tennis players (n = 609) in Flanders (Belgium) were asked to evaluate hypothetical realistic situations containing match-fixing propositions. Our results show that sportspersons’ crime propensity, mostly determined by their moral judgment of SRMF and self-control, and their levels of temptation, together with a number of SAT interactions, were the best predictors of SRMF as a form of sports-related rule breaking. We conclude that SAT provides a valuable theoretical framework to study fraud in sports phenomena such as SRMF, and that factorial surveys have great potential to allow researchers to reach beyond the risk factor stage of research, to efficiently inform prevention initiatives.

  • Cocaine and the port: Utopias of security, urban relations, and displacement of policing efforts in the port of Piraeus

    In large commercial seaports policing and security efforts to counter the drug trade, especially cocaine, do not appear to be effective beyond a mere displacement effect. In the port of Piraeus, Greece, (perceived) rising quantities of cocaine have led to calls for further securitisation of the port to curb illicit trafficking. This article will present the current trends of countering and disrupting cocaine at the port of Piraeus and question how these efforts, together with the growth of the port, are affecting the overall territory of and around the port. This article will first argue that the (perceived) increase in cocaine trade towards/in the port of Piraeus has activated a ‘utopia of security’ in the policing and security responses at the port. This utopia of security leads to paradoxes when it comes to being effective against organised crime in the port. The article will conclude by discussing the possibility of a different approach, one of displacement of countering efforts rather than of cocaine flows. This different approach can also rebalance the focus of policing and security authorities on the relationship between the port and its territory.

  • Structure, positions and mechanisms: A case study of two Dutch Salafi-Jihadi networks

    Social network analysis can be a powerful tool to better understand the social context of terrorist activities, and it may also offer potential leads for agencies to intervene. Our access to Dutch police information allows us to analyse the relational features of two networks that include actors who planned acts of terrorism and were active in the dissemination of a Salafi-Jihadi interpretation of Islam (n = 57; n = 26). Based on a mixed-method approach that combines qualitative and more formal statistical analysis (exponential random graph models), we analyse the structural characteristics of these networks, individual positions and the extent to which radical leaders, pre-existing family and friendship ties and radicalizing settings affect actors to form ties. We find that both networks resemble a core–periphery structure, with cores formed by a densely interconnected group of actors who frequently meet in radicalizing settings. Based on our findings, we discuss the potential effects of preventive and repressive measures developed within the Dutch counterterrorism framework.

  • The street-jihadi spectrum: Marginality, radicalization, and resistance to extremism

    For over a decade, jihadi terrorism in Europe, and the recruitment of Europeans to fight for ISIS in Syria, have increasingly involved marginalized youths from a social context of street culture, illegal drug use and crime. Existing theoretical models of the crime-terrorism nexus and radicalization arguably do not sufficiently explain the fluid and dynamic ways by which the street cultural come to be politico-religiously violent. This paper provides a novel retheorization, the street-jihadi spectrum, which is better placed to explain a wide range of behaviours, from the merely stylistic to the spectacularly violent. On the street culture end it includes subcultural play with provocative jihadi symbols and on the jihadi end the terrorism of ‘gangster-jihadists’. We emphasize that the spectrum, consisting of a multitude of confluences of street and jihadi cultures, also includes resistance to jihadism.

  • The SECI model and darknet markets: Knowledge creation in criminal organizations and communities of practice

    This study examines darknet markets through the lens of a business theory on knowledge management. Taking epistemological and ontological dimensions into consideration, this study uses Nonaka's (1991) SECI model as a theoretical framework to identify and describe how tacit and explicit knowledge is created and shared on Silk Road, Pandora and Agora darknet markets, and how people affect this process. By studying this process, insights can be obtained into darknet market criminal organizations and communities of practice and their impact on the continuity and resilience of illicit darknet markets. This project used data from the Internet Archive collection of publicly available darknet market scrapes between 2011 and 2015 from Branwen et al. (2015). We observed instances of the SECI model (socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization) on darknet markets in both criminal organizations and communities of practice. Darknet market leaders and groups facilitated both knowledge creation and sharing. This study is the first to test the SECI model on darknet markets. The study provides an understanding of the complexity and resilience of darknet markets, as well as valuable information to help guide law enforcement agencies efforts to stop the illicit trade of goods and services.

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