CAD.20.009 – In search of trust: evidence-based interventions to reduce and monitor socio-economic and ethno-racial inequality in punishment

Route: Child and adolescent development, upbringing and education

Cluster question: 041 What is the ''inequality problem''?

Socio-economic and ethno-racial inequalities in punishment are well-documented in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Such inequalities constrain disadvantaged youth; life chances, and put pressure on the legitimacy of the liberal state, which promises equality before the law. Given its prevalence and importance, there is a surprising lack of evidence-based interventions to reduce such inequalities. The Netherlands currently also lacks a cost-efficient methodology to systematically monitor them.
These inequalities in punishment partly result from macro-level factors that are hard to change (e.g. how and where different groups live, or how the police is organized). However, they also result from the – often quite subtle – interactional processes between youth, other citizens (e.g. neighbourhood residents), and state functionaries (police, public prosecutors, judges). These actors’ interpretations and interaction strategies codetermine whether formal or more informal forms of social control are used and whether interactions reinforce or decrease mutual trust.
This project has two aims:
(1) To develop and test evidence-based interventions among youth and criminal justice system functionaries that will reduce social inequalities in punishment and problematic mutual distrust. We seek to develop these interventions with schools, social workers, and relevant state institutions, such as local governments, police, public persecutors, ”Halt”, and courts. The interventions could have the form of theoretically underpinned online/offline educational material and trainings for youth and professionals. The design and documentation of the Interventions should ensure that they are replicable, possibly in adjusted form, in other cultural contexts (e.g., outside of the Netherlands and in the future). Existing best practices (e.g. informal organizational expertise) will be interpreted theoretically and streamlined into Dutch, and possibly English, educational material.
(2) To develop cost-effective methodologies that can be used to monitor social inequalities at different stages of the criminal justice system, such as by combining self-reported crime and criminal justice data.


evidence-based interventions, institutional trust, policy, punishment, social inequality, social trust, sociology of emotions, youth

Other organisations

different Ministries, NGO's, schools, Talks have begun with the Dutch police


Organisation Erasmus University Rotterdam (EMC)
Name Prof. dr. A.S. (Arjen) Leerkes