Recall to prison in Belgium: Back-end sentencing in search of reintegration

Kristel Beyens, Lars Breuls, Lana De Pelecijn, Marijke Roosen, Veerle Scheirs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In recent years, the United States and England and Wales have witnessed growing re-incarceration rates. This growth is not only due to the courts sending more people to prison (‘front-end sentencing’), but also due to an increasing number of revocations of early release measures, mainly following technical violations of licence conditions (so called ‘back-end sentencing’). However, it is unclear whether the same phenomenon exists in other (European) countries. Therefore, we empirically studied prison recall decision-making processes in Belgium by file analysis, complemented with focus groups with the decision makers involved in the recall process of prisoners with a sentence of more than three years. We found that the recall process in Belgium is embedded in a strong narrative of ‘giving chances’ and that all decision makers deploy a large amount of discretion, which they use to make deliberate decisions in an attempt to facilitate parolees’ reintegration process. Non-compliance with imposed conditions does not automatically lead to recall and even when a parolee is sent back to prison, recall is framed by the decision makers as a step in the reintegration process, not the end of it.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0264550519900227
Pages (from-to)6-25
Number of pages20
JournalProbation Journal
Issue number1
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • back-end sentencing
  • conditional release
  • recall to prison
  • social reintegration


Dive into the research topics of 'Recall to prison in Belgium: Back-end sentencing in search of reintegration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this