Imprisonment in the Balkans

The project aims at analysing the penological landscape of the Balkans and presents the second regional ‘mapping’ study of the MPPG (see project description “Mapping the Criminological Landscape of the Balkans” for the first ‘mapping’ study). The idea to focus on imprisonment is based on the finding that in many of the Balkan countries this topic has not yet been researched thoroughly and that there seems to be something Balkan-specific regarding imprisonment. This Balkan-specific feature can be shortly described as a discrepancy between the generally low crime rates (esp. regarding serious and violent crime), but the rather high imprisonment rates in the Balkans. In addition to this, the SPACE statistics show that countries experiencing major upward trends in their prison population rates are mainly located in Southern and South-Eastern Europe (see figure). It should be interesting to see what the reasons for this are, whether these are regional in nature and to what extent they can be traced back to the region’s socialist and communist heritage.

The project will capture the state of art in punishment policies and practices as well as main features of the prison population in many of the countries of Southeast Europe. This will include the historical development of sentencing policies, relevant legal provisions and imprisonment practices, information on penal institutions, esp. conditions in penal institutions, data about the prison population and an overview of current discussions about prison, imprisonment and sentencing. The study is currently ongoing and the first findings will be presented at the forthcoming MPPG Conference in Sarajevo.

It is foreseen that the project results will be published in the third volume of the MPPG’s Balkan Criminology publication series. This will also include an introductory part with an overall Balkan imprisonment analysis (Getoš Kalac & Maljevic´), a contribution about ‘Life imprisonment as an alternative to the death penalty in a period of political transition: Choices and consequences’ (van Zyl Smit & Reichstein), a chapter focusing on prison statistics (Aebi, Burkhard, Mesquita & Solca) and an analysis of imprisonment policies (with a special focus on long term imprisonment) in Europe (Kilchling)

MPPG contact for Imprisonment in the Balkans: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anna-Marie Getoš Kalac