Mission Impossible? The professionalisation of Austrian probation between desistance and “what works”

Over the last few years, desistance research has gained importance as an alternative to the risk-based “what works” approach. When significant proponents speak of a new desistance-paradigm arising, it has to be borne in mind that their analyses focus mainly on the practice of probation in the UK where dramatic restructuring and cost-cutting were implemented under the “what works” label. This paper presents the results of a research project investigating the implementation of a cognitive behavioural programme in probation in Austria. This programme, developed on the basis of “what works” and Risk-Need-Responsivity ("RNR")-principles, is assessed from a desistance perspective. Probationers themselves reflect on what helped them to “go straight” and what role the programme played in the desistance process. It is shown that the “what works”- and the desistance-perspective may complement each other under specific circumstances, even if certain conceptual differences remain.

>> European Journal of Probation


Restorative Justice and the Spirit of Rebellion

Brunilda Pali has initiated and a series of conversations, and email-Exchange about the history, and about recent developments in the field of Restorative Justice. Following the first conversation with Howard Zehr the second one with Christa Pelikan, on a very personal note, is now online: 'conversation' with Christa Pelikan 


Towards Pre-Trial Detention as UltimaRatio

This EU funded projects aims at exploring and analyzing pre-trial detention practice, especially different ways of reducing the use of pre-trial detention, in seven European jurisdictions. It is, on the one hand, focused on the human rights situation of the suspects who in principle should benefit from the presumption of innocence. On the other hand it addresses the views and needs of the judiciary which also depends on available alternatives as well as on other obstacles they experience with respect to the avoidance of pre trail detention. Increasingly, and this will be another focus, cross-border cases need to be solved within the EU, like for instance with the European Supervision order. The project aims at increasing mutual knowledge about other jurisdictions within the EU. Central to all project activities, although not restricted to them, are judges and prosecutors, because they are the ones who decide also dependent on and influenced by given conditions. The project is about learning from and with each other and to contribute to developments fostering the avoidance of pre-trial detention.

For more information on the project, please visit the website.


Desistance and Restorative Justice

Although many studies have shown that participation in restorative justice programs often reduces the likelihood of reoffending, it remains unclear why this is the case, for which groups and under which conditions. The general aim of this study was thus to gain insight in the mechanisms within restorative justice practices that can contribute to desistance from crime and thus reduce victimisation. The final report is now available. 



Participatory film-making was a central tool for data collection and dissemination within the ALTERNATIVE project. The films produced over the course of four years at project sites in five different countries are now available via this link. Researchers and practitioners report on their daily experiences and explain the overall aims and methodological approaches of the project.