This chapter describes the recent history of both community sentences and the probation service in the Netherlands.
Community sanctions are defined as those sanctions that are implemented in the community under some restriction of liberty due to requirements or limitations of movement imposed on the offender. Community sentences as an alternative to prison sentences began in the Netherlands in the mid-1960s. This was accompanied by a rejection of retribution as an aim of punishment and a pragmatic assessment that the rehabilitation of the offender benefited both the well-being of the offender and the safety of the community; however, probably due to the quantitative growth of community sentences, the original goal of rehabilitation has apparently become less important. Research indicates that community service orders are not much more effective than prison sentences in reducing offending. Further, the climate of punitiveness in responding to offenders began to extend to community sentences. The probation service is primarily responsible for implementing community sentences, and its performance is monitored and guided by the government. The emphasis on producing measurable results in community sentencing has meant that promising rehabilitation programs have focused on probationers motivated to change and who have been assessed as being at low risk for recidivism. Offenders at high risk for recidivism do not receive intensive treatment. Although this policy helps the probation service meet its target goals for cost-effectiveness, it does not increase public safety. 5 notes and 48 references
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