Americanization of Criminal Justice in Europe?

Chrisje Brants, University of Utrecht
Kees Brants, University of Amsterdam

Based on a case study of the Netherlands, this paper examines the claim that the public sphere in Europe has undergone fundamental changes as a result of what is often referred to as a process of 'Americanisation'. Such changes concern, among other things, the political system in which the electorate is increasingly viewed as a marketable commodity and the media, for whom the public service ideal has made way for consumer-based programme policies. Criminal justice is a field in which these tendencies not only come together, but that has itself witnessed developments that are similary described as Americanisation, both with regard to ideologies of crime, criminal law and punishment, and the 'selling' thereof to the public through the interaction between politicised issue-making and commercial media logic. The Netherlands is particulary suitable for testing this claim as it has always been regarded as a prime example of a consensual and concilliatory society, with a stable political system, socially responsible and public-minded media, and an exceptionally tolerant penal climate.

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Updated 05/20/2006