Penalisation and retreat: the changing face of Dutch criminal justice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines criminal justice policy in the Netherlands from 1994 until 2002. These so-called purple years, in reference to the labour-liberal coalition government in office were characterized by falling crime rates and a hugely expanding criminal justice state at the expense of traditional Dutch reductionist penal policy. The emergence of a Dutch-style crime complex requires scrutiny in light of Downes’s emphasis on Dutch post-war tolerance towards lawbreakers. I conclude that tolerance no longer is a driving force in penal matters but it continues to inform the governance of areas of ambiguous morality such as euthanasia and prostitution. The beneficiaries of the new tolerance are no longer offenders but rather those making certain life choices or preferring certain lifestyles. This article looks at causes and effects of these changes in the nature of criminal justice governance in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
JournalThe Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Penalisation and retreat: the changing face of Dutch criminal justice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this