About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

2 Eur. J. Probation 4 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/eurjp2 and id is 1 raw text is: 




                                                                   European Journal of Probation
                                                                         University of Bucharest
                                                                               www.ejprob. ro
                                                                     Vol. 2, No.], 2010, pp 4 21
                                                                            ISSN: 2006 2203
                From 'community service' to 'autonomous work penalty'
                             in Belgium. What's in a name?

                                      Kristel Beyens
                                 Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Abstract

In Belgium, community service (dienstverlening) 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 the so-called 'work penalty' (werkstraf) in 2002. This change in
the terminology and the legal and penological basis, from an alternative sanction embedded
in a rehabilitative approach to just another neoclassical form of punishment primarily aiming
for retribution, ushered in another sentencing practice and led to a rapid increase in the
number of work penalties imposed. This article describes the legal provisions governing the
'work penalty' and the peculiarities of its implementation in practice. It explores the possible
explanations of the success of this sentence and the implications of that success for its
execution.

Keywords: Community service - Work penalty - Belgium - Sentencing, - Implementation

Introduction

In Belgium, community service (dienstverlening) 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' (werkstraf) in 2002. This changing
terminology represented a new legal status and expressed the importance of more 'classical'
penal objectives and the search at that time for more credible 'alternative sanctions'. This
change achieved its intended increase in the use of work penalties: within a few years the
number of work penalties in Belgium increased at an unprecedented rate, leading to problems
of capacity with respect to the execution of the sanction.

The work penalty as a main or stand alone penalty can be regarded as one of the most
important innovations in the set of punishments in Belgium. Since the introduction of the
Belgian penal code in 1867 no other main penalty has been added to the well-established duo
of the prison sentence and the fine. At the same time the introduction of the work penalty is a
continuation of an existing practice that started in 1994 with the introduction of community
service as a condition of probation. The change of its status to a stand alone sentence ushered
in a significant change in the sentencing behaviour of judges and in the implementation of
community service. This article describes the legislation, the aims and characteristics of the
work penalty, its imposition and execution. It explores possible explanations for its success
and the implications for the organisation of its execution.

In contrast with its quantitative success, empirical research on the use and implementation of
community service and the work penalty is rather scarce in Belgium. Community service in

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most