From ‘community service’ to ‘autonomous work penalty’ in Belgium. What’s in a name?

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In Belgium, community service for adults was introduced in 1994 as a condition of probation at the sentencing level and as a condition of mediation at the prosecution level. It became a so called work penalty in 2002. This changing terminology and transformation of the legal and penological basis as an alternative sanction, embedded in a rehabilitative offender-oriented approach, to just another neoclassical form of punishment, primarily aiming for retribution, ushered in another sentencing practice and led to a sharp increase in the number of work penalties to be executed. This paper describes the legal provisions and the peculiarities of the implementation practice of the work penalty in Belgium. It explores the possible explanations of its success and the implications for the organisation of its execution. It will be argued that the work penalty fits in what Garland and Loader and Sparks have described as 'new government of crime'.
Original languageDutch
Title of host publicationASC Conference, San Francisco
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • community sanctions

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