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Hub 2: Social justice, human rights and penal policy

This hub will generate new thinking, discussion and ideas for policy and practice around the broad question of the role that social justice and human rights can and should play in reimagining penal policy.

Hub LeaderIan Loader

This hub is led by Professor Ian Loader of the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford.

The hub will focus on three overarching issues:

1. The role and boundaries of criminal law in the regulation of social behaviour

What role can (and should) the criminal law play in seeking to affirm or change social norms? Has there been an over reliance on criminal law as a means of dealing with social problems in recent years? Can the boundaries of the criminal law be rolled back? What alternative forms of regulation can be imagined and expanded in law’s place?

2. The role of human rights in shaping better penal policy and practice

How significant should human rights be in determining what can and cannot happen in the criminal justice system? How might the current debate about the Human Rights Act play out in the penal realm? What positions ought one to adopt in that debate? What is the role and limits of rights as a framework for delivering a fair and effective penal system?

3. How should we understand the relationship between social justice and penal policy?

How far should social justice considerations shape what happens in the criminal justice and penal system? Part of the focus here will lie in developing understanding of the impact of financial austerity and social inequalities on the scope and distribution of criminal harm and the scale and operation of the penal system. But we shall also address the more challenging and future-oriented issue to do with the role the penal system might play in contributing to greater social cohesion. Can and should we respond to criminal harm in ways that seek to enhance social solidarity? What would a penal system that sought to do this look like?

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