DOI: 10.5176/2251-3809_LRPP17.19

Authors: Manuel Portero Henares


The need to make effective criminal law requires a consistent approach to the social sciences and should be based on the need to synthesize the empirical and normative knowledge. This perspective must have multiple scientific impacts and must, above all, have a decisive influence in the design of criminal policy, taking into consideration the empirical analysis of criminal behaviour from a sociological, psychological and criminological point of view, and must play an important role in the choice of methodological principles of criminal law. The recent alterations of criminal law in western countries within the last 20 years have been directed towards the gradual increase in length of punishments, especially prison sentences, for all types of crimes. The series of alterations has increased the trend called "punitivism", in a clear and decisive way. This gradual increase in punishment has reached its peak with the introduction of the life sentence in countries where previously it did not exist or the excessive increase in imprisonment for more serious crimes. In recent years the works from the scientific community has revolved largely from the critics of the prevailing “punitivism”, developing many different arguments, which cohere in the sense of almost absolute neglect that legislatures and Governments have with respect to the scientific community. These arguments, in my opinion, revolve around two ideas: On the one hand, as with the emotional or romantic argument, punitivism goes against the ideological background of the conception of the State and the purpose of prison, referred in one way or another in the constitutions. On the other hand, as with the scientific and technical argument, should consolidate with sufficient clarity the idea that empirical and statistical analysis that contributes to the social sciences (Sociology, Psychology and Criminology) should be an indisputable scientific paradigm as well as criminal science and criminal policy. In this paper I present the scientific basis of this interrelationship and the reason for the frustration from the criminal science on the growth of punitivism from the perspective of the objective analysis of the optimization from the disciplinary legal resources.

Keywords: Populism, Punitivism, Life imprisonment, Criminal Policy.


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