Greek and International Penitentiary Policy

Degree Program: Social Administration (7th semester – elective)

Degree Program: Political Science(7th semester – elective)

Teaching hours: 3 per week-ECTS 5

Course Tutor: Nikolaos Koulouris, Assistant Professor

Purpose and description:

Elements of history, philosophy and sociology of penal repression and the execution of sentences are combined in this course, which is taught in the 7th semester and is addressed to students of all study directions of the Department (a. Social Administration, advanced semesters of Social Policy and Social Work, and b. Political Science). The course belongs to a circle of courses dealing with the crime and the penal phenomenon. These courses are Criminology, Security and Human Rights, Criminal Phenomenon and Formal Social Control, Juvenile Law and Delinquency, Victimology, Crime Policy and Globalization, Greek and International Penitentiary Policy, taught in the Department either as mandatory or as optional. The teaching of these courses allows students to acquire the basic knowledge which is necessary for a systematic engagement with Criminological Sciences, after they graduate.
The course includes analyses of the formation of penal repression means and methods, the purposes and functions of punitive measures in the light of traditional, conventional and revisionist, critical approaches, the content of different penal sanctions and measures, whether custodial (reformatories, prisons etc.) or community based (probation, community service , electronic monitoring) and their combinations.
The rules of international organizations (UN, Council of Europe) for the organization and operation of the services enforcing custodial and non-custodial penal sanctions, managing the treatment and protecting the rights of persons remanded or convicted, are discussed together with the respective rules of the Greek legal system and the characteristics of penal and prison reform and penitentiary policy in the 20th and the 21st centuries. Emphasis is put on elements of social policy and social work (counseling, assistance, education,work, health care) provided by law and organized by the competent services (namely the prison and probation service) for persons subjected to various forms of penal control. The political nature of penality is highlighted, seen as a phenomenon inherent to the exercise of power in different forms of societal organization.The discussion of these issues is supplemented with student papers based on relevant reports of national authorities, bodies and institutions as well as international organizations and preventive mechanisms or judicial bodies and research centers (the Ombudsman, the National Commission for Human Rights, All Party Parliamentary Committee on the prison system, NGOs, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Centre for Prison Studies etc.). Lectures are enriched with presentations by guest experts, practitioners and individuals who have experienced various forms of penal control and discussions on the content of films or books such as Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “Das Experiment”, Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange and Tony Kaye’s “American History X”.


1 The penal phenomenon and its political nature. The prerequisites and the distinctiveness of punishment.The development of penal sanctions.Revenge and retaliation, reparation and redress, penal coercion.The state power to punish.The evolutionary approach of the penal phenomenon and its revisionist critique.

2 The objects of penal sanctions (life, liberty, property, status). Justification and philosophical foundations of punishment in history.Theories of punishment.The binary system of sanctions; penalties and security measures.

3. The symbolic and actual functions of punishment in modern western societies. Mass incarceration, prison overcrowding, penal austerity and the social organization of prison.Prison amelioration and abolition as social policy perspectives in the field of penal repression.

4. The turning points of punitive methods. The decline of the death penalty, the shift to custodial sentences and the search for non-custodial alternatives or substitutes.Correctional systems and the individualized treatment of offenders.Utilitarianism (rehabilitation, social reintegration) and neutrality (legality and protection of rights).

5. Rules for the execution of sentences in Greece and abroad, with a focus on Western European jurisdictions. The work of international organizations (UN, Council of Europe), their rules and recommendations and observations of national independent and advisory authorities for custodial and non-custodial sanctions and measures.

Learning objectives:

Students who will successfully complete the course will know the historical route through which the means and methods of penal repression have been formed and the diverse theoretical foundations and orientations affecting national and international penitentiary policies, with emphasis on European penological discourses and realities. They will also have an overview of custodial and non-custodial penitentiary institutions, trends and problematic aspects of penal repression and the critical approaches questioning this specific field of formal social control. Finally, they will be able to participate, as researchers and practitioners, in drafting and evaluating penitentiary policy programs, in developing custodial and non-custodial treatment interventions for remanded and convicted persons and in implementing respective measures.


1) Written examinations or

2 ) Written examinations and contributory individual papers not exceeding 3,000 words, presenting particular penitentiary institutions, international and Greek penitentiary policy texts and Greek and international authorities, agencies and bodies reports and documents for the custodial and non-custodial treatment of persons accused or convicted of committing crimes or

3) Papers individually or collectively prepared by up to three students, in the form of reports not exceeding 15,000 words, presenting educational visits or placements to services competent for the execution of custodial and non-custodial penal sanctions and measures (prison, probation and aftercare services)) and organizations working and running programs in relevant fields (Initiative for Prisoners’ Rights, NGO’s etc.).


  1. Mandatory

• Courakis, N., 2009. Penal repression between past and future. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Koulouris, N., 2009. Surveillance and criminal justice.Alternative sanctions and the dispersal of prison. Athens: Nomiki Vivliothiki

• Pitsela, A., 2003. International penitentiary policy texts. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

  1. Optional

• Alexiadis, S., 2001. Corrections. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Alexiadis, S..& Panoussis Y., 2002.Penitentiary Rules. Athens – Komotini: A.N. Sakkoulas

• Aloskofis, W ., 2010. The informal code of prisoners. Athens – Komotini: A.N. Sakkoulas

• Archimandritou, M., 2012. The prison as a mode of detention and as a form of execution of sentences. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Chaidou, A., 2002. The penitentiary system. Issues of theory and practice . Athens: Nomiki Vivliothiki

• Courakis, N., 2008. Penological theory. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Galanou , M., 2011. Correctional treatment and rights of detainees. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Giovanoglou, S., 2006. Institutional social reintegration problems for released inmates. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Dimopoulos, Ch., 2009. Penitentiary Law. Athens: Nomiki Vivliothiki

• Koulouris, N., 2009. The social (re-)integration of prison. Athens: Nomiki Vivliothiki

• Spinellis, C.D., & Courakis N., 2001. Correctional legislation. Athens: Nomiki Vivliothiki

• Panoussis, Y. [Ed], 2009. Prisons with open gates. Athens – Komotini: A.N. Sakkoulas

• Pitsela, A., 2006. Social support in the field of criminal justice. Athens – Thessaloniki: Sakkoula

• Ombudsman [Karydis, V., &. Fytrakis, E. introduction and editing]. 2011. Incarceration and rights. The Ombudsman view. Athens: Nomiki Vivliothiki

• Vidali, S..&Zagoura , P. [Eds]. 2008. Counseling and prison. Athens – Komotini: A.N. Sakkoulas

• Cavadino, M. & Dignan, J., 2006. Penal Systems.AComparativeApproach.London: Sage

• Cohen, S., 1985. VisionsofSocialControl.Cambridge: PolityPress

• Coyle, A., 2009. AHumanRightsApproachtoPrisonManagement.London: International Centre for Prison Studies

•Daems, T., van Zyl Smit, D. & Snacken, S., 2013. EuropeanPenology?.Oxford: HartPublishing

• Foucault, M., 1977. Discipline and Punish. The birth of the prison. London: Allen Lane

• Garland, D., 2001. TheCultureofControl.Oxford: OxfordUniversityPress

• Jewkes, Y. &Johnston, H. [eds], 2006. PrisonReadings, Devon: Willan

• Matthews, R., 2009. Doing Time.An Introduction to the Sociology of Imprisonment. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

• McNeill, F., & Beyens, K. [eds], 2013. Offender Supervision in Europe. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

• Pratt, J., & Eriksson, A., 2012. Contrasts in Punishment. Abingdon: Routledge

• Raynor, P. & Robinson, G., 2009. Rehabilitation, Crime and Justice. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

• Ruggiero, V. & Ryan, M. [eds], 2013. Punishment in Europe.A Critical Anatomy of Penal Systems.Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan

• Wacquant, L., 2009. Prisons of Poverty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

• Welch, M., 2011. Corrections.A Critical Approach. London and New York: Routledge

• White, R., Graham, H., 2010. Working with Offenders. Devon: Willan