Bars in your head: (네덜란드의 전자감독제도: 상상 속 철창 전자감독): Electronic monitoring in the Netherlands

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Introduction Electronic monitoring (EM) is currently widely applied within Dutch penal practice. Recent policy discussions suggest, moreover, a further expansion. Looking at the many different forms of electronic surveillance, one might think it must have a long tradition in the Netherlands. Though the possible introduction of EM has been a subject of political discussion since the mid-1980s, the first actual experiments only took place in 1995. In this chapter we will situate the use of EM in the Netherlands in the context of the penal system’s development as a whole. Though often presented as an alternative to custody, the question of whether EM has ever replaced any custodial sanction can hardly be answered, because its introduction coincided with an unprecedented expansion of the prison system and the gradual establishment of a culture of control (Downes and van Swaaningen 2007). In this chapter we will investigate whether, and if so, under what conditions EM could possibly resist this wider tendency of the last 15 years.2 In our analysis we consider four dominant paradigms in penology. We contrast a ‘Foucauldian’ perspective on EM as the panoptic technique par excellence in a ‘carceral society’ with an ‘Eliasian’ perspective in which it is interpreted as a sign that social control continues to move from Fremdzwang (external coercion) to Selbstzwang (self-discipline). In the first vision – to borrow Stanley Cohen’s terms here – widening the net and thinning the meshes of social control are the dominant rationales. The Eliasian perspective is open to a more optimistic vision in which the rehabilitative potential of EM can be explored. Next to these two theories we will examine the role of actuarial and managerial considerations, which have become extremely influential in penological literature from the mid-1990s on. After outlining its history in the Netherlands, we will describe the concrete forms through which EM is applied and its legal and political rationales. Evaluative research on the various modalities will be discussed in the next section. Since most of this research is available online, often with an English summary, we will be relatively brief about the research design here and concentrate on the results. Conclusions with respect to the role the different rationales of

panopticism, rehabilitation, risk-management and cost efficiency play at different moments of the development of EM are the object of the last paragraph. Reflections about the question of how EM could contribute to a reduction of the use of imprisonment and to the rehabilitation of offenders conclude this chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectronically Monitored Punishment: International and Critical Perspectives (Korean translation)
Subtitle of host publication공저) 비교 전자감독 제도론
EditorsMike Nellis, Kristel Beyens, Dan Kaminski
Place of PublicationSeoul
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Research programs

  • SAI 2005-04 MSS


Dive into the research topics of 'Bars in your head: (네덜란드의 전자감독제도: 상상 속 철창 전자감독): Electronic monitoring in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this