Increased "Punitivity" -- Only a Consequence of a Harsher Punishment of Sex Offenders?

Joachim Obergfell-Fuchs, Max-Planck-Institute for Criminal Law
Harald Kania, Max-Planck-Institute
Helmut Kury, Max-Planck-Institute

The problem of increased "punitivity", i.e., actual harsher criminal sanctions or/and a higher public demand for more severe sanctions has been widely discussed among North American and European countries during the last years. Nevertheless, it is still doubtful whether there has been a general increase in punitivity in all these countries. In Germany, like in other European countries, the discussion on the demand for harsher sanctions is closely associated with the actual punishment of sex offenders. Using sentencing statistics, this article examines changes in the punishment of sex offenders during the last decades. These data are compared with the punishment of other types of violent offenders. Despite of the comparably small increase in registered sex offences during this period, the actual sanctions of sex offenders became much harsher compared with other violent offenders. Together with new legislations on sex crimes, these data indicate that the discussion on punitivity is mainly focused on sex offenders.

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Updated 05/20/2006