La diversité ethnique et le système pénal en Belgique

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Since the Eighties, non nationals are becoming an ever increasing group in the Belgian criminal justice system. In 2010 more than forty percent of the prison population consists of persons who do not possess the Belgian nationality, compared with nine percent in the global population. In the remand population ethnic minorities are even more overrepresented. Especially offenders with a non - EU nationality and, more recently, prisoners from Eastern - European countries have a bigger risk to end up in prison. In this context, it is important to know whether this selective over-representation of certain ethnic groups in prison is a result of their different criminal behaviour or whether they are more vulnerable for judicial interventions that lead to imprisonment.
This article discusses the results of Belgian research that has investigated the possible selective attitudes of the criminal justice agents with regard to foreigners or 'ethnic otherness'. It is found that 'ethnic foreignness' is strongly related to social vulnerability and that the combination of social vulnerability and not having a Belgian nationality leads to more severe judicial interventions. The article also discusses the essentialist versus the constructivist approach of the study of this question.
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationTransnational Criminology Manual
Editors Herzog, Martine Evans
PublisherWolf Legal Publishers
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-90-5850-549-1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series


Bibliographical note

Herzog - Evans, Martine


  • ethnic minority
  • selectivity

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