GRIP – Group for Research in Punishment

The study of punishment and its enforcement raises critical legal, sociological, political, and moral questions. These issues command significant public attention and occupy a central place in academic research. GRIP is committed to rigorous explorations within this field. Founded on an interdisciplinary framework, we collaborate across faculties, universities, and research institutions.




The study of punishment and its enforcement raises critical legal, sociological, political, and moral questions. These issues command significant public attention and occupy a central place in academic research. GRIP is committed to rigorous explorations within this field. Founded on an interdisciplinary framework, we collaborate across faculties, universities, and research institutions.

GRIP has four main research objectives, but we explore many more in practice:

Execution of Sentences:

The Danish Prison and Probation services grapple with multifaceted challenges. Overcrowding, attrition among prison officers, high levels of violence among prisoners, aging infrastructure, and mounting political pressure shape the execution of sentences. We examine how Danish law and international conventions, which secure prisoners’ rights and impose positive obligations for safe and meaningful punishment, intersect to address these complexities. What does the State do to address in-and voluntary isolation? How do they accommodate female prisoners? What does rehabilitation look like under pressure? Essentially, we want to understand how confinement is experienced both by staff and prisoners. Additionally, we explore the extent to which the crisis is linked to the rise in both the length and volume of prison sentences, collectively intensifying the burden on the Prison and Probation services.

Process and Scope of Punishment:

We are also examining the key actors and institutions involved in punishment. From law enforcement agencies to the prosecution and the courts, we scrutinize the process and scope of punishment. How do victims perceive criminal cases? What role does a defendant’s personal background play in sentencing? How do judges justify imposing severe sanctions, including indeterminate sentences? Our research also ventures into novel areas, such as victims’ understandings of justice and forgiveness, the intricate social networks of human traffickers, and international notions of justice and reconciliation. We are also interested in the ways in which the penal landscape expands to encompass transnational crime, immigration issues, digital offenses (e.g., sharing of intimate images), and nuanced understandings of consent in sexual matters. We engage in critical discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of this expanding penal field.

Historical Context of Punishment:

To understand contemporary punishment, we must anchor it within the context of Danish history. What are the underlying logics that have shaped punishment in Denmark? How does punishment intersect with care and control? Can we conceptualise prisons as welfare state institutions, and how have political initiatives responded to this perspective over time? Crucially, we identify subjects of punishment—e.g. children, young people, or marginalized groups—and trace the evolution of societal attitudes and reactions towards these groups. By examining historical shifts, we gain insights into present-day penal ideology and practice. These historical discussions serve as a lens through which we analyse transformations in legal and moral principles.

Methodology, Ethics, and Theory:

Punishment lends itself to interdisciplinary approaches. Our research group bridges law, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, history, and related traditions. Drawing from our collective expertise, we engage with dogmatic, quantitative, and qualitative research methods. This allows us to refine existing methodologies and innovate new approaches for studying punishment and its far-reaching consequences


GRIP is actively engaged in advancing knowledge and understanding in the field of punishment and its consequences. Our members contribute significantly to teaching, supervision, and research across various levels of education. Below, we outline our involvement in teaching and highlight relevant courses offered at the Faculty of Law.

Teaching Activities

Undergraduate Courses (BA-level):

  • Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure: In this foundational course, students explore the principles, doctrines, and practices of criminal law. Topics include substantive criminal offenses, legal defences, and the criminal justice process.
  • Philosophy of Law and Sociology of Law: This interdisciplinary course delves into the philosophical underpinnings of legal systems and examines the sociological aspects of law. Students engage with fundamental questions about justice, rights, and legal norms.
  • Why Punishment? (BA-level): This thought-provoking course invites students to critically examine the purpose, ethics, and effectiveness of punishment. Drawing from legal, philosophical, and sociological perspectives, it explores the complexities surrounding punitive measures.

Postgraduate Courses (MA-level):

  • Introduction to Criminology and Crime Prevention: At the master’s level, students delve into criminological theories, various forms of control, and strategies for preventing crime. The course emphasizes evidence-based approaches to crime prevention.
  • International Criminal Law and Procedure: Focusing on transnational justice, this course explores the legal frameworks governing international crimes (such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity). Students analyse the role of international tribunals and the challenges of prosecuting offenders across borders.

Continuing Education Course:

  • Diploma in Criminology: Designed for professionals seeking specialized knowledge, this diploma program covers a wide range of criminological topics. Participants gain insights into crime prevention, various forms of control, victimology, and the functioning of criminal justice systems.

Supervision Opportunities

Our experienced members are enthusiastic about supervising students who plan to write their BA-thesis or MA-thesis on topics related to punishment and its consequences. If you are seeking guidance in any of these fields, feel free to reach out to our group.


Researchers in GRIP are actively engaged in a multitude of research projects centred around punishment and its far-reaching implications. These projects are too numerous to list in their entirety, but they cover a range of issues such as: the history and development of reactions to youth crime, digital crime, global criminology and justice, international confinement, indeterminate imprisonment, isolation and remand imprisonment, order in prisons, the moral aspects of crime and punishment, gender and imprisonment, the social life in prisons as well as sociological studies of courts.


Feel free to reach out to one of our two coordinators:

Associate Professor
Julie Laursen

Faculty of Law,
Karen Blixens Plads 16
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Phone: +45 31371342
Research profile

PhD Fellow
Frederik Rom Taxhjelm

Faculty of Law
Karen Blixens Plads 16
DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Phone: +45 24470306
Research profile
































Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

Name Title Image
Bernasol, Joseph Cape Research Assistant Billede af Bernasol, Joseph Cape
Cakal, Ergun PhD Student Billede af Cakal, Ergun
Christensen, Mikkel Jarle Professor with special responsibilities Billede af Christensen, Mikkel Jarle
Elholm, Thomas Professor Billede af Elholm, Thomas
Gravholt, Anne Mosegaard PhD Fellow Billede af Gravholt, Anne Mosegaard
Holtermann, Jakob v. H. Associate Professor Billede af Holtermann, Jakob v. H.
Johansen, Louise Victoria Associate Professor Billede af Johansen, Louise Victoria
Laursen, Julie Associate Professor Billede af Laursen, Julie
Rasmussen, Katrine Barnekow Assistant Professor Billede af Rasmussen, Katrine Barnekow
Taxhjelm, Frederik Rom PhD Fellow Billede af Taxhjelm, Frederik Rom
nvs417, Jens Elo Rytter Professor Billede af nvs417, Jens Elo Rytter

Affiliated Researchers

Name Title Institution E-mail
Andrew Jefferson  Senior Researcher DIGNITY E-mail
Anette Olesen Associate Professor Aalborg University E-mail
Anette Storgaard Professor Aarhus University E-mail
Annemette Nyborg Lauritsen Associate Professor University of Greenland E-mail
Annick Prieur Professor Aalborg University E-mail
Ann-Karina Eske Henriksen Docent University College Copenhagen E-mail
Asbjørn Storgaard PhD Lund University E-mail
Britt Østergaard Larsen Senior Researcher VIVE E-mail
Charlotte Mathiassen Associate Professor DPU, Aarhus University E-mail
Clara Rosa Sandbye
PhD Fellow Aarhus University E-mail
Henrik Vigh Professor University of Copenhagen E-mail
Kasper Jørgensen PhD Fellow Aalborg University E-mail
Lars Højsgaard Andersen
Research Professor The Rockwool Foundation E-mail
Lea Cecilie Brinkgaard PhD Fellow University of Copenhagen E-mail
Linda Kjær Minke Professor MSO University of Southern Denmark E-mail
Louise Høyer Bom
PhD Fellow University of Copenhagen E-mail
Luna Kragh Andersen PhD Fellow Aarhus University E-mail
Mathilde Carøe Munkholm PhD Fellow University of Southern Denmark E-mail
Mette-Louise Eskildsen Johansen Senior Researcher VIVE E-mail
Merethe Riggelsen Gjørding PhD Fellow DPU, Aarhus University E-mail
Peter Scharff Smith Professor University of Oslo E-mail
Peter Starke
Professor MSO University of Southern Denmark E-mail
Peter Vedel Kessing Senior Researcher Danish Institute for Human Rights E-mail
Steffen Bo Jensen Professor Aalborg University E-mail
Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson Professor MSO VIVE E-mail
Theresa Dyrvig Henriksen
Researcher VIVE E-mail
Thomas Brudholm Associate Professor University of Copenhagen E-mail
Tomas Max Martin Senior Researcher DIGNITY E-mail
Trine Mygind Korsby Marie Curie Fellow University of Copenhagen E-mail