Research and studies
In this page I shall mainly refer to my research and studies since 2009
here are, however the references to three of my former research:
Rédaction en collaboration avec Eric Péchillon (Rennes I), d’un rapport pour le GIP (Ministère de la Justice, Mission droit et justice) d’un rapport de recherche sur « Le droit de l’exécution des peines. Problèmes et enjeux d’une discipline juridique en formation« , 2003.
Funded by the Mission Droit et Justice
Synthese sur le site Mission droit et Justice
Rédaction en collaboration avec Eric Péchillon d’un rapport pour la Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme, pour l’aider à rédiger ses propositions « Etude sur les droits de l’homme en prison« , 11 mars 2004.
« Amnistie, prescription et grâce en Europe« pour le GIP (Ministère de la Justice, Mission droit et justice) en collaboration avec Jean Danet et Sylvie Grünvald, Université de Nantes. Rapport remis en juillet 2006.
Synthèse et rapport
Funded by the Mission Droit et Justice
Each year, I conduct research with my Masters students (and/or PhD students). Since I teach in three different universities at Master plus level, this allows me to create teams of students helping me with the field work (which I also share) and to study several regions for comparative purposes. Research funding is scarce in France and this allows me to do research virtually without any funding. This naturally requires a very tight supervision of law students (and prior training) but yields very interesting results.
In most cases, publications ensue (also go to my conferences for presentations based on my research)
Some of my research only last one year; others last two to three years.
I shall only go back to 2009
Over the last few years virtually all the research thus conducted have focused on Who Works in French probation (called sentences’ implementation in France) – with a few interesting exceptions.
In 2009, we have worked on:
1) The reports to the French reentry courts – drawing on Cyrus Tata »s methodology (in Tata and al., « Assisting and advising the sentencing decision process », BJCrim, n° 48(6) 835-855). In Franc,e there is quasi no individualisation of the sentence at sentencing level: most is done after that by a special judge, the juge de l’application des peines (hereafter JAP). Consequently, reports to the JAP are actually more important than PSR.. We found astonishingly similar results to those of Tata and al. Unfortunately we did not yield enough material to publish.
2) The first days of an inmate in prison. Here I supervised a team of students who worked on a new system inspired by European Prison rules, asking member states of the Council of Europe to pay special attention to the first days of incarceration.
Two of these students, C. Gaffuri and J. Fromget did such a great job that it was eventually published by Parisian publisher L’Harmattan under the title L’accueil des détenus dans les prisons françaises, L’Harmattan, 2011. Available here
They showed that even though this had greatly improved the material conditions of the first days of incarceration, it had, in practice only postponed the ‘carceral chock’ and that it essentially helped the institution to draw as many useful data on inmates.
3) Mothers and babies in prison (this is an ongoing subject of study for me -see here my articles and book chapters) – this year students focused on the nurseries and birthing conditions along with the cultural – imperialistic? – domination of French educational and nursing methods. Throughout the years I have published extensively on this subject. This new research has allowed me to add to new publications:
- « Les enfants de détenus: « The orphans of justice » » Supplément à Lamy revue de droit civil, Novembre 2011, pp. 35-38 (article)
- and « Mothers and babies in French prisons: cultural and legal variables », in G. Eldjupovic and R. Bromwich (eds.), Incarcerated Mothers: Oppression and resistance, Demeter, 2013 (book chapter): Link to Book
In 2009-2010 we worked on:
1) The six month limit to release measures under prison registry. We looked into the perception of probation officers and JAP about the maximum length of release measures under prison registry (i.e. electronic monitoring, semi-freedom and placement in the community). This two year research led to the following article:
« The six month limit to community measures ‘under prison registry’: a study of professional perception »European Journal of Probation, 2012, vol. 4, n° 2, pp. 23-45 –available : PDF here
And in French: Le plafond des six mois » pour les mesures sous écrou. Perceptions des praticiens’, in T. Tournier (ed.), (2013), Une certaine idée de la criminologie. Approche indisciplinaire du processus pénal, Paris, l’Harmattan: 151-165
2) Desisting in France (perceptions and practice of practitioners confronted to desisters’). The idea was to determine what was the knowledge of practitioners (in particular probation officers) about desistance, and whether they acted accordingly – in particular whether they really supported the desistance process. PractitiUne certaine idée de la criminologie. Approche indisciplinaire du processus pénaloners’ interviews were confronted to desisters’ interviews. The research showed that they knew little and did even less. This led to two publications:
- « Intérêt et difficultés d’une approche désistante en France », in P. Mbanzoulou, M. Herzog-Evans, S. Courtine (eds.), Insertion et désistance des personnes placées sous main de justice. Savoirs et pratiques, Paris, L’Harmattan, pp. 87-109 Available here
- « Desisting in France: What probation officers know and do. A first approach », European Journal of Probation (Ejprob), 2011, vol. 3(2), pp. 29-46, available: PDF here
3) Being a probation officer in the years 2010 (a study of cultural, institutional and policy changes in probation throughout the recent years).
This led to two publications:
- ‘Probation in France: some things old, some things new, some things borrowed, and often blue’, Probation Journal, 2011, n° 58(4) : 345-354 – Abstract here
- ‘Explaining French Probation: Social Work in a Prison Administration’, in F. McNeill and I.. Durnescu (eds.), Understanding penal practice, 2013, Routledge (book chapter – at Routledge here)
- Moderniser la probation française: un défi à relever (which translates by modernising French probation: A challenge), Paris, l’Harmattan, 2013, -available here
In 2010-2012 we worked on:
1) Prison guards’ moral values. This research aimed at using Alison Liebling’s appreciative inquiry model (we obtained her questionnaire). However, in the middle of our research, the national prison services headquarters demanded that we stopped our field work. We nonetheless managed to interview more than 40 prison guards. I still haven’t had the time to use this material for future publications. I am also trying to let some time pass before I show the prisons services that we managed to do some field work despite their opposition )
I presented my preliminary results at the March 2014 meeting of the European Society of Criminology Prison Life and the Effects of Imprisonment work group in Brussels and shmy powerpoint is available on the prison life page or on my conference page
The results have also been presented at the Agen conference of November 25-26, 2014, of the French Prison School Academy Third International criminology conference HERE
And you can find my powerpoint on my Conference Page on this website
One article and a book chapter (in French) have been publishe following this study:
‘Surveillants: professionnalisme, « bonne distance », soins, écoute et émotions’, Ajpénal décembre 2015: 583-588
Les surveillants expérimentés: satisfaction, relations, émotions et légitimité professionnelle: tester en France l’appreciative inquiry’, in Mbanzoulou P. (ed.). Criminologie et pratiques pénitentiaires: une voie vers la professionnalisation des acteurs? Les Presses de l’ENAP, 2015 : 173-196
2) Fines. This small scale research looked into the legal framework of fines, their perception by the public and their use by tribunals. We however did not yield enough material for future publication
3) in 2010, I launched a very large research (qualitative and quantitative) on the French reentry courts ( juges de l’application des peines) (JAP) looking into their desistance culture and practice.
This research also focused on JAP relationship with probation services, the use of fair trial, legitimacy and therapeutic jurisprudence and their use of sanctions (recall…).
Several publications have ensued:
- ‘Judicial rehabilitation in France: helping with the desisting process and acknowledging achieved desistance’, European journal of Probation, 2011, n° 3(1): 4-19 (article), available at Article on Judicial Rehabilitation (focused on criminal records)
This was a special ed on Judicial rehabilitation which I chaired: here
- ‘Non-compliance in France: a human approach and a hair splitting legal system’, European journal of Probation, 2012, n° 4(1): 45-61 (article), available at Non Compliance in France article
- ‘ Révolutionner la pratique judiciaire. S’inspirer de l’inventivité américaine’, Recueil Dalloz, 2011, n° 44 : 3016-3022 (article)
- ‘Sanctions for non compliance in France: the practice of sentences’ implementation courts », in P. Ugwudike et P. Raynor (dir.), What works in offender compliance?’, forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan (book chapter) available here
-Is the French juge de l’application des peines a Problem-Solving Court?’ , forthcoming in in M. Herzog-Evans (ed.), Offender release and supervision. The role of courts and the use of discretion in probation and reentry, Nijmegen, Wolf Legal Publishers, NL, forthcoming (book chapter)
-Le juge de l’application des peines : monsieur Jourdain de la désistance, Paris, L’Harmattan 2013 - French version available here
Also published in English: French reentry courts and rehabilitation : Mister Jourdain of désistance, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2014 - English version available here at L’Harmattan and on amazon uk and on on amazon ca
1) Third sector – the role of the French third sector in probation and reentry. We are investigating policies, finances, and focusing on three regions: Reims, Paris and the West Coast of France (Nantes, La Roche sur Yon,). This research is linked to the grant that Rosie Meek (Teeside) and Beverly Frazier ((John Jay College, New york)) obtained with the ESRC, Economic and Social Research Council,UK http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ : ‘the role of non profit organisations in prisoner rI also refer to this research in mu forthcoming paper in the European Journal of Probation (see below)eentry: Establishing a US-European research network’ (ongoing)
2) JAP’s perceptions of forensic experts. France does not use actuarial or structured clinical assessment methods. This creates both human rights violations and public security risks. I have published on this issue (« Outils d’évaluation: sortir des fantasmes et de l’aveuglément idéologique », Ajpénal feb. 2012, pp. 75-80) and tried and convince politicians (see my written contribution to the MoJ conference of consensus and My video contribution to the French MoJ conference of consensus). Here we are trying to determine what the judges think of such assessment (a lot of them being mandatory), whether they believe in their validity and reliability and what they make of them in their decisions. I co-supervised this research with two forensic psychiatrists, Doctors Baratta and Halleguen (Metz university hospital). I then coded and analysed the interviews.
here’s the presentation I did at a conference in Rennes (university Hospital) on January 31, 2014 pertaining to this research (you’ll find the powerpoint and the audio file): Here
I have presented an update on this study in Paris in January 2015 (Faculty of Medicine, Paris Descartes):
The results of this research have been published in French and English
‘La perception de l’expertise par les JAP: une recherche empirique’. Ajpénal Novembre 2014: 516-520
‘ What on earth can this possibly mean? » French reentry courts and experts risk assessment’ , International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 2015, online first: doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2015.08.036
5) French intensive probation. This is a 3 years research evaluation of two regions’ (Cambrai and Beauvais) experience of so-called ‘intensive probation’ which the prosecuting services of said regions asked me to conduct.
The tribunals first allowed us to do an outcome evaluation, but then this was withdrawn in Beauvais in 2013. I am thus only doing a two year quali eval of these programmes.
On December 14, 2012, I organised a conference in Reims University (go to The conference and scroll down to the 14th of December) pertaining to the efficacy of sentences’ implementation (probation and supervision) where the Beauvais and Cambrai experiences were presented by the prosecutor who created it and by the current JAP of Cambrai and where I explained what were the results of England and Wales and US intensive probations had been and explained why French intensive probation was actually not… intensive supervision.
The conference presentations has been published by French publisher Mare et Martin – see here Book Page
Here’s the book chapter comparing French reinforced probation and Anglophone inten sive probation:
A. Worrall, R. C. Mawby & M. Herzog-Evans, « La probation intensive des condamnés adultes en Angleterre et au Pays-de-Galles : leçons et comparaison avec la France », in M. Herzog-Evans (dir.), L’efficacité de l’exécution des peines, Mare et Martin, 2014, p. 105-141
I refer to this research in my paper in the European Journal of Probation (see right below:
6) Three ‘placement in the community’ experiences in the region of Morbihan.
Funded by the Probation Service of Morbihan
I was asked by the Director of the Morbihan probation service to evaluate three local ‘placement in the community’ a reentry system (a sort of half-way house or approved premises) whereby offenders with very little social capital or with serious mental or addiction problems are taken care of, supervised and supported with the collaboration of the third sector. In year one my students and I are doing qualitative work (looking into offenders’ , staff and third sector volunteers’ perceptions and satisfactions; looking for potential problems – for instance one of the setting is an island, hours by boat away from the continent). We are currently negociating with the prison services national headquarters authorisations to do the actual eval. in years 2 and 3 and looking for funding. My report was submitted on August 2013 to the Probation Service of Morbihan. A summary of the research finding and of the other above mentioned research pertaining to third sector participation in probation has been published :
‘French third sector participation in probation and reentry: Complementary or competitive? ‘ European Journal of Probation at Sage, April 2014, 6, 42-56.
7) I obtained with my colleague M. Mollaret (faculty of psychology, Reims) a regional Champagne-Ardennes funding (project « ‘incitatifs amonts ») to investigate JAP’s values when they make decisions in the light of former US research into cognitive decision-making process of sentencing judges and courts. and, inter alia:
Klein D. et Mitchell G. (dir.) (2010), The Psychology of Judicial Decision Making, Oxford University Press and Casey P., Burke K., Leben S. (2012), Minding the Court. Enhancing the Decision-making Process. A White Paper, American Judges Association, October )
We used vignettes consisting in full ‘fake’ cases (which I had elaborated with my PhD student Clémentine Danet) with a PO report, a JAP decision, a prosecutor’s opinion and when relevant an expert risk assessment. There were four cases: a sex offender; a DIU; a drug addict; a batterer. Each case comprised a first part where the JAP had to decide whether he would transform a custody sentence into a community sentence, as French law allows, and in this case, which and a second part where the offender had breached some of his obligations but not others. Each case was elaborated so as to be as close to real life cases and all had to be of an equivalent severity. We interviewed 19 JAP; they were asked to answer a structured questionnaire elaborated by my colleagues. During the interview they were also asked to freely comment on the cases and tell us what decisions they would have made and why?
My colleagues have used the material to test Weiner’s theory of motivation see the wiki page here) and found that… it did not apply there! I shall use the interviews for a future article in French.
1) I launched a research on attorneys and probation.
In the course of my previous research on JAP and desistance I noticed that there were two types of attorneys: holistic (who like home birth midwives assist offenders from the beginning of the penal process to their release, collaborate and network with various agencies and often get to know their clients’ families and family history to a T) and classic ones (see in French reentry courts and rehabilitation, op. cit., pages 107-118). I want to test this typology.
With a team of seven students we :
- conducted attorney interviews
- conducted JAp interviews
- conducted offenders’ interviews
- observed attorneys in action with their clients (in their office, in prison, before hearings)
- observed attorneys in action during JAP hearings.
An article has been published by the the Journal International Journal of Therapeutic Jurisprudence (Arizona Summit Law School
2) I have been asked by the municipality of Reims, the tribunal of Reims and a third sector agency called Le Mars also based in Reims, to evaluate: Reims domestic violence programmes Outcome.
In the course of the first year I am first laying the foundations by doing a qualitative eval of this programme with a team of six students.
We are doing:
- observation of the group work sessions
- interviews of practitioners (police, social workers, judges, psychologists, third sector staff…);
- interviews of victims and offenders
- drawing statistics about who, when , how, etc.
- attending meetings and other programme instances..
This is a full immersion qualitative research.
In the three years after that we should be doing an RCT of its outcome – the prosecutor has told us we would be allowed to! This should take us up to 2017.
Funded by: Reims agglomération (city), the National Funds for Local Policies (FIPD) and the Regional Delegation for the Rights of Women.
A literature review (in French) has been published:
‘Violence dite « »domestique »: une responsabilité sociétale et peu de perspective de traitement’, Ajpénal mai 2014: 217-221.
A Book Chapter will be published with my preliminary results in an edited book by Dr Debarati Halder (Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling(CCVC), Founder Secretary, South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology(SASCV), Tamil Nadu, India) and Dr.K. Jaishankar,Ph,D, (Assistant Professor (Senior),Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, India) Book Chapter title: Violence Against Women Programmes in a North East French City. Issues of Safety, Collaboration, Gender, ‘McJustice’, and Evidence-Based Practices
I hace also published with my colleague Brunetti-PONS on family courts’ treatment of DV issues:
Résidence alternée, syndrome d’aliénation parentale et violences domestiques: entre inversion du jugement de Salomon et mise en danger
Revue juridique personnes et famille, juillet-août 2014: 11-18 (Première partie)
Revue juridique personnes et famille, septembre 2014: 12-18 (Deuxième Partie)
From 2014 onward
1) Following a Mission Droit et Justice (Gip) bid I obtained a grant for a study Le suivi post-sentenciel : limites et perspectives. La mise en oeuvre de la libération sous contrainte
The research study title is: Le suivi post-sentenciel: limites et perspectives. La mise en oeuvre de la libération sous contrainte, Mission droit et justice
The goal is to study the implementation and early application of a new law on prisoners’ early release (: ‘Taubira Act’ n° 2014-896, August 15, 2014), to study the resistance and compliance, practitioners and prisoners’ reception and perception of legislators’ intentions, the difficulties, etc. The theoretical framework is: desistance theory, what works, reentry theories and practices/legitimacy of justice-procedural justice and therapeutic jurisprudence (LJ-PJ-TJ)/and compliance theories (including Self-Determination Theory), and (innovation & implementation) diffusion theories.
The study is conducted with a PhD student, Joaquin Lopez and a dozen masters students.
Our main research questions are:
1. Since the new law considerably limits fair trial, how does it fare according to both practitioners and offenders in terms of LJ-PJ-TJ theories. Taubira new fast-track release procedures are compared with regular due process release procedures.
2. Following diffusion theories, how is this law implemented and what are the obstacles (resources, lack of moral alignment…);
3. Since most prisoners are serving short term to medium sentences, is a fast-track-low staff involvement and supervision an adequate solution?
Our method is essentially qualitative: immersion/observation meetings, all decision-making commissions…)/interviews/documents analysis (including &all the rulings in two sites)./with some quantitative elements (e.g. length of time devoted to each case).
The study is conducted in four North-East of France jurisdictions.
The field work started in October 2014 and shall continue until December 2016. Our mid-term results are to be sent to the Mission Droit et Justice in September 2016 and the final report shall be issued mid 2017.
2) I am participating in the Reducing prison population: advanced tools of justice in Europe led by Synergia, Italy
Within the framework of the project “Reducing Prison Population: advanced tools of justice in Europe” (coordinated by the Comunita’ Papa Giovanni XXIII, Rimini ( Grant: JUST/2013/JPEN/AG/4489),
So far I have written a
- 10 pages report on French alternatives to incarceration (pre-trial, sentencing and post-sentenciam) (in French – will be translated into English soon)
- interviews with 5 experts
- a report on 10 ‘best practices’
- a report on the three best of these ten practices including a case study for each;
The latter are all in English and can be found on the following research project website along with the other jurisdictions’ reports and the general reports: REDUCING PRISON EU
3) This time not as a leader, but as an associate researcher I am participating in a research on Le droit à l’enfant et la filiation en France et dans le Monde (The Right to Have a Child in France and Abroad),
funded by the Mission Droit et Justice
and led by my colleague Clotilde Pons-Brunetti, family law specialist with whom I greatly enjoy working on a regular basis (we publish family law-criminology articles together, I participate in the conferences she organises, focusing on primal health issues, attachment theory and parenting)
In this particular research I am focusing on attachment theories and research and their links to conduct disorder and delinquency (literature review).
I launched in September 2016 a one year study with a dozen Masters students, University of Reims, Law Faculty
We attend all the hearings of a North-east felony court, and using an observation-immersion researh design, we note and code mainly through the lenses of the Legitimacy of Justice-procedural justice and Therapeutic jurisprudence frameworks
We attend all the hearings of a North-east felony court, and using an observation-immersion research design, we note and code mainly through the lenses of the Legitimacy of Justice-procedural justice and Therapeutic jurisprudence frameworks
This local research is not funded. it is conducted with a team of fifteen masters students.
Also ttached to this general one year study I work with my psychology colleague Audrey HENRY and a Masters’ student, M. CHAVAND. We have developed a screen assessment tool to try and detect mental health issue cases during the above mentioned trials and focus on how these cases are dealth with in court (judges’ attention, care, respect; mandatory treatment; understanding of mental health issues ; and sanism (Perlin)).