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Criminality, delinquency, justice :From knowledge to action

Pierre V. Tournier
Cet article est une traduction de :
Criminalité, délinquance, justice, connaître pour agir

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1We, research workers, researchers-lecturers, and young researchers under training, working in various fields of study, persons involved in the penal system, whatever their profession, members of the  medical professions, activists within associations related to the penal system, require from the public authorities, the setting up of a multidisciplinary structure for the study and research work concerning the breaches of the law, their prevention, the way they are punished and their redress.

2This structure, the administrative framework of which remains to be devised, should emulate similar experiments abroad and try to gather in the same unit, representatives of the law sciences, of social sciences, of medical sciences and sciences of the mind, of philosophical studies, professional researchers but also “field workers” interested in the scientific process.

3Through its very existence, it must further this multidisciplinary approach of the penal system which is so badly missing in our country.

4We are convinced that the multidisciplinary approach is the only one able to enlighten the public debate on the penal question, beyond emotions , sufferings  but also ideological passions and to contribute significantly to the construction of penal policies far beyond a systematic mind and popularity-seeking attitudes.

The aims of this structure are the following :

  1. It launches, develops, favours, under its own initiative or by request of the authorities, every research work on breaches of the law and answers provided (prevention, assistance to victims, prosecution of the authors, alternatives to prosecution, the pronouncement of the measures taken and the punishment required, details of implementation) in all the fields concerned.

  2. It assesses, carries out or has any research work carried out, which is useful to the multidisciplinary scientific knowledge of the penal field or to its contribution to public safety and to the improvement of the penal institutions.

  3. It collects, centralizes  and enhances all the studies,  from  France and from foreign countries, related to its sphere of activity, by the creation and the development of a wide-ranging documentary centre connected with the existing centres. It works out syntheses of available knowledge, keeping above all , the government, Parliament and the authorities informed about the established knowledge.

  4. It lends its support , within its competence to research training and to research.

  5.  It takes part, within its competence, in the information of all the citizens.

  6. It takes part, on the international level, in the circulation of the French studies supporting  the use of the French language.

  7. Every year, it draws up a widely circulated report on its activities, on the results of the work achieved or that has been achieved under its initiative and offers proposals.

5On the administrative level, various answers must be contemplated and assessed according to two criteria , intellectual independence and efficiency in reaching the defined objectives : supervision by the Prime Minister through the new Centre d’analyse stratégique or supervision of the Judiciary ( Ministère de la Justice), the Home Secretary in charge of national and regional development, the Health Secretary, all of them or only the supervision of the Education Secretary in charge of higher education and research. Of course it depends on the evolution of the existing structure and the further developments to be achieved. Besides, the unit must have tight links with  higher education, academic and vocational, Secondary education being also taken into account.

6It is with this open-mindedness that we ‘ll get in touch , in the coming weeks with the public authorities and all the political parties in order for this structure to be created without further delay.

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Pierre V. Tournier, « Criminality, delinquency, justice :From knowledge to action », Champ pénal/Penal field [En ligne], Vie de la recherche, mis en ligne le 08 mai 2006, consulté le 12 décembre 2017. URL :

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Pierre V. Tournier

Directeur de recherches au CNRS, Centre d’histoire sociale du XXe siècle, Université Paris 1. Panthéon Sorbonne, ancien président fondateur de « Pénombre » et de « Champ Pénal / Penal Field », ancien président de l’Association française de criminologie (AFC).

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