Investigating sentence severity with judicial open data: A case study on sentencing high-tech crime in the Dutch criminal justice system

Pieter Hartel*, Rolf van Wegberg, Mark van Staalduinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Open data promotes transparency and accountability as everyone can analyse it. Law enforcement and the judiciary are increasingly making data available, to increase trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. Due to privacy legislation, judicial open data — like court judgements — in Europe is usually anonymized. And even if the court judgement has been made public, the rest of the case file is usually not published. Therefore, the question arises to what extent criminological research into sentencing can make use of anonymized open data. We answer this question based on a case study in which we use the open data of the Dutch criminal justice system that is available on https://www.rechtspraak.nl/Uitspraken. Over the period 2015–2020, we analysed sentencing in 25,366 court judgements and investigated the relationship between sentence severity and the offender’s use of advanced Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The most important results are, firstly, that offenders who use advanced ICT are sentenced to longer custodial sentences compared to other offenders. Secondly, sentencing research with open data is found to be feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Coding software
  • Cybercrime
  • Focal concerns
  • Open data
  • Open source
  • Sentence severity

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