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Recall to prison in Belgium: Back-end sentencing in search of reintegration

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

In recent years, the United States and England and Wales have witnessed growing re-incarceration rates. This growth is not only due to the courts sending more people to prison (‘front-end sentencing’), but also due to an increasing number of revocations of early release measures, mainly following technical violations of licence conditions (so called ‘back-end sentencing’). However, it is unclear whether the same phenomenon exists in other (European) countries. Therefore, we empirically studied prison recall decision-making processes in Belgium by file analysis, complemented with focus groups with the decision-makers involved in the recall process of prisoners with a sentence of more than three years. We found that the recall process in Belgium is embedded in a strong narrative of ‘giving chances’ and that all decision-makers deploy a large amount of discretion, which they use to make deliberate decisions in an attempt to facilitate parolees’ reintegration process. Non-compliance with imposed conditions does not automatically lead to recall and even when a parolee is sent back to prison, recall is framed by the decision-makers as a step in the reintegration process, not the end of it.
Journal: Probation Journal
ISSN: 1741-3079
Issue: 1
Volume: 67
Pages: 6-25
Number of pages: 20
Publication year:2020