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Criminology, Crime and Criminal Justice in Hungary

NCJ Number
European Journal of Criminology Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 239-260
Klara Kerezsi; Miklos Levay
Date Published
April 2008
22 pages
This article describes the main features of criminology in Hungary and reviews developments in crime and criminal justice over the past two decades.
The development and features of Hungarian criminology have three general characteristics. First, Hungarian criminology has emerged from the discipline of criminal law under the growing acknowledgement of the social dimension of crime and criminal behavior. Second, its development has been significantly influenced by the changing characteristics of Hungary's political and social systems, which have sometimes led to the suppression of criminology and other times involved its hijacking for ideological purposes. Third, it is open to adapting theories and methods from Western nations. The leading paradigm within Hungarian criminology has been social determinism; i.e., that crime as a human act is determined by various factors (e.g., biological, social, and psychological). During the second half of the socialist regime, crime was viewed as a social phenomenon related to social conflict. International support for criminology in Hungary was an important part of its revival and eventual re-establishment. The development of Hungarian criminal justice policy after the change of regime has some noteworthy features. In the first period of the transition, criminal justice legislation mirrored the liberal criminal justice policy concepts of the Western democracies, underpinned by the proposals of Hungarian criminal justice experts. This continued into the second half of the 1990s, with Hungarian criminal justice policy trending toward an overly punitive model for criminal justice policies. In 2003, this trend began to change under arguments of criminal justice experts who advocated multifaceted criminal justice policies that aim to protect individuals and communities, accountability and rehabilitation of offenders, and victim support. An overview of Hungary's crime trends is also provided. 7 figures, 2 tables, and 38 references