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Effects of the different judicial treatments for drug users

Research project DR/16 (Research action DR)


Persons :


Description :

Theme and objectives

During the last decades, the chronic overload of the criminal justice system has increased the demand for a more effective application of the criminal justice system. In combination with the notion that the penal intervention must always be considered as an “ultimum remedium” – since the criminal justice system can’t control the social phenomena, even less solve them –, this phenomenon saw to it that the policy-makers have been searching for alternatives to the classical penal approach of certain phenomena.

Concerning the drug phenomenon, it became obvious that a person who has to face drug problems, and who was guilty of drug-related offences, must be at most managed through the various alternative sanctions or the diversionmesures , and this referring to the assistance (to drug users).

The research attempts to bridge the gap concerning the evaluation of the effects with regard to the Belgian situation and aims as well at the research on the attitude of the different judicial actors and drug users as at the research on the effects of the alternative sanctions for the drug users. The research pays special attention to the new alternatives, and mainly to those who were introduced specifically for the drug users the latest years.


Research design

The first phase of the research will sketch a view of the relevant Belgian and international literature, with special attention for the recent evolutions and the attitude and results evaluations already executed previously, as far as these are available.

A descriptive summary of the different existing alternative sanctions at the various levels of the penal system, namely at the criminal investigation and prosecution level, at the level of sentencing and at the level of execution of the punishment, will be developed on the basis of this literature study. Furthermore, the literature study constitutes the basis for the elaboration of the methodology to explore the attitudes of the judicial actors and the drug users towards the alternative sanctions, and the methodology to explore the results of the alternative sanctions.

The second phase is the qualitative research on the attitudes towards the alternative sanctions by the different judicial actors and drug users.

In relation to the judicial actors, a distinction is made in this chapter between the “decision makers” (the actors who decide whether a drug user is being considered for an alternative sanction or not) and the “executors/advisers” (these have no decision-making authority, but deal with the execution and the support of the alternative sanction), and the other privileged witnesses, namely the Bar.

The attitude survey explores the general willingness among the “decision makers” with regard to the application of the alternative sanctions for the drug users and the reason relating to it, what are the modalities of the alternative sanctions that are applied the most and the least and the reason relating to it, the choice of the conditions associated to the alternative sanctions and the criteria that influence this choice. Among the “executors/advisers”, we will explore additionally the possibilities and the bottlenecks in the execution of the alternative sanctions. We will also inquire the attitude towards the alternative sanctions among a number of drug users.

The survey regarding the attitude forms the preamble of the third phase of the research, namely the empiric research on the effects of the various modalities of the alternative sanctions. This research will be executed on the basis of a file analysis in three legal districts dispersed in the three regions. The evaluation proper concerns an evaluation of the results without control group, by means of an analysis of uninterrupted successive periods. The 2 criteria used for the evaluation of the results are based on the prevention of the repetition of an offence and the improvement of the distinct vital domains.


Coordinator: Prof. Dr De Ruyver

Supervisors: Prof. Dr Ponsaers
Prof. Dr Lemaitre
Prof. Dr Macquet

External expert: Danilo Ballotta (E.M.C.D.D.A.)


Documentation :

Effecten van alternatieve afhandeling voor druggebruikers = Effets des mesures alternatives pour les consommateurs de drogues  De Ruyver, Brice - Ponsaers, Paul - Lemaître, André ... et al  Gent : Academia Press, 2007 (PB6199)

Effets des mesures alternatives pour les consommateurs de drogues : résumé    Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2006 (SP1691)
[To download

Effecten van alternatieve afhandeling voor druggebruikers : samenvatting    Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2006 (SP1692)
[To download

Effects of alternative measures for drug users : summary    Brussels : Belgian Science Policy, 2006 (SP1718)
[To download

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