Community service orders and training orders have been introduced in Belgium in 1994. These sanctions are implemented in the community by local organisations. The aim of this research was (1) to make a state of the art the available supply in the community to implement community service orders and training orders and (2) to make an analysis and evaluation of the bottlenecks in the implementation trajectory of those sanctions.
A multi-methodology, combining quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection was chosen, including (1) a review of the literature and an analysis of field documents (annual reports, existing analyses and evaluations from the field), (2) individual interviews with key actors (3) focus groups with key actors and (4) a consultation of the entire para-penal field using self administered questionnaires.
The research shows the immense complexity of this 'responsabilization strategy', engaging actors and agencies of civil society in the implementation of punishment (Garland, 2001). It illustrates the bottlenecks of a 'government at a distance' (Garland, 2001), and shows how the implementation of these community sanctions is a matter of patchwork repairs and interim solutions rather than well thought-out reconstructions. The implementation practice of both sanctions is funded through an unstable and timely granting scheme, entailing statutory and financial precariousness of the projects who carry out these sanctions. We recommended for a greater uniformity in the administration and subsidizing of community service and training orders, however taking into account local differences and specific needs with regard to punishment.
Researching the implementation of community service orders and training orders revealed also problems at the sentencing stage, such as the cumulation of community service orders with other sanctions, suggestions of the judge about the concrete modalities of the community service, which is illegal and which brings along problems for the implementation, etc. We also found that the imposition and implementation of training orders is confronted with a defective legal basis, unclear objectives and a lack of clarity with regard to sentencing and implementation conditions.