The first experience in deliberative democracy in Spain in the field of criminal justice and the purpose of punishment

DEP Institut collaborates in an online deliberative democracy experience

The professor of the Law Department at the University of Girona, Dr Daniel Varona, with the support of DEP Institute, has carried out the first on-line experience in deliberative democracy in the sphere of penal justice in Spain.

It is an exercise in deliberative democracy in an on-line format based on a sample representative of the Spanish population. The project has been developed in three stages: the first stage consists of a questionnaire using questions related to the penal justice system and the finality of the punishment. Subsequently, in the second stage, two groups have been created: group A has envisioned a documentary in which the subject matter is reflected upon, and group B has received an informative document on the subject and subsequently participated in a deliberative experience on the form of an on-line forum made dynamic and available by Dr Daniel Varona. In the end, Group A as well as Group B has had to respond to the same questionnaire that they filled out in the first stage. In the last stage, the third one, for purposes of analyzing the durability or lack of changes in attitudes, the same survey has been issued again to three groups of people: a sample of those that only responded to the first questionnaire, another sample of those who also viewed the video, and a sample of those who in the place of watching the video participated in one of the forums that were made available. Additionally, a qualitative analysis has been carried out in the last phase for the content of the forums using program Atlas.ti.

Through the significantly statistical selection of a sample, it is believed that the deliberative surveys represent “what the popular masses in their totality would think regarding a political issue or about some candidates if given the opportunity to give broad reflection and have access to information

In this sense, at the end of the day this has to do with analysing what the effect has been of having received additional information and/or participated in a deliberative experience on the change of attitudes towards the penal justice system and the finality of the punishment.