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Tolerance and pragmatism in the Netherlands: euthanasia, coffeeshops and prostitution in the 'purple years', 1994'2002

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he Netherlands is traditionally regarded as a tolerant nation. In criminal justice matters such tolerance was usually evidenced by low prison rates, and a rehabilitation and social welfare oriented criminal justice system. In other words, the tolerance had a focus on wrongdoers. During the 'purple years' (1994'2002) when a neoliberal government that consisted of the Labour Party and two liberal democratic parties, took office, a shift in tolerance emerged. New legislation included the legalisation of euthanasia and of brothels, and same sex marriages were authorised too. Meanwhile the policy of soft drugs decriminalisation via coffee shops has remained intact. In a climate of rising prisoner numbers, we observe an increased level of tolerance towards certain lifestyles or life choices. This article discusses the causes and effects of these developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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