The “grande dame” of youth criminology in Europe is no more. Josine Junger-Tas passed away at age 81. True to her character, until the very end, she remained keenly interested in the world around her. Josine was a passionate, prolific and creative scholar who has inspired many criminologists, in Europe and beyond. Her contributions, too numerous to be summarized easily, have been recognized by the American Society of Criminology Sellin-Glueck award (1989), the American Society of Criminology Division of International Criminology Distinguished International Scholar Award (2007), and – last but not least – the ESC European Criminology Award (2009).
Josine Junger-Tas wrote her dissertation on youth crime (“Characteristics and Social Integration of Juvenile Delinquents”) and received her PhD at Groningen University (Netherlands) in 1972, under the supervision of Dutch criminologist Wouter Buikhuisen. In the early stage of her career, she worked as a researcher at the Study Centre of Juvenile Delinquency, Brussels (Belgium), but in 1975, she moved to the Netherlands where – for about twenty years – she was associated with the Research and Documentation Center (WODC) of the Dutch Ministry of Justice, honing her skills at “applied research with scientific integrity.“ From 1990 to 1994, as the Director of the WODC she skillfully and gracefully shepherded this government agency through difficult times, always with a smile and with good humor.
After retiring from the WODC in 1994, she became a professor of youth criminology at the University of Lausanne where she received an honorary doctorate (2000). Both before and after her retirement, she had been visiting professor at various universities (including the École de Criminologie at the Université de Montréal, the University of Stockholm, the University of Cambridge, and most recently, at Utrecht University). Josine was an enthusiastic, popular and dedicated teacher. She easily connected with undergraduate students in large lecture halls, but she also devoted her time generously to mentor graduate or postgraduate young scholars. Her rapport with students may have been due to her own curious mind and tireless drive to keep up with new developments. Although she liked to read mysteries when travelling, her favourite reading materials were recent international journals or books on crime, immigration, violence, family life, or politics. She even taught herself SPSS just a few years ago, unwilling to leave the important task of analysis of her data to somebody else.
Because of her ease in translating research findings into applied policy recommendations, Josine served on many domestic (Dutch) as well as international committees and advisory boards. For instance, she recently (2010) travelled to Rome to present her report on Youth Violence and Knives, commisioned by the World Health Organization. An outstanding scholar who enjoyed academic discourse and faithfully attended academic conferences in Europe and in the US, Josine was anything but an ivory tower intellectual. To the contrary, in the parlance of today, she could be viewed as a “public criminologist”. Josine was not afraid to speak her mind. As her obituary in the NRC (the leading Dutch newspaper) states: Professor Junger-Tas was very concerned with the fate of children and youth with problems… and she was very bothered by how Dutch police and social welfare agencies over the last several years started to control children and youth. The NRC article explains how Josine characterized the collection of DNA-materials of minors as “nonsense and objectionable”; the removal of children from their home because the parents are not up to their task as “damaging”; and the systematic compiling of records of all children (with their risk-factors, or parental unemployment, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) as “contra-productive”. She was a fervent and compassionate believer in prevention rather than punishment, and she often spoke out publicly against the repressive and hard line youth policies which emerged in the Netherlands over the last decade. In radio and television interviews as well as in the printed media, she questioned the “hype” about alleged rising crime rates and she never hesitated to express her indignation about the increasing repressive nature of youth policy.
Although Josine has written about many topics (e.g., police, prisons, crime trends, survey methodology, human rights, evaluation programs, social welfare, family policy), her passion was first and foremost for youth and youth problems. She has co-authored several important volumes on juvenile justice and juvenile delinquency: most recently, just to name but a few The Handbook of International Juvenile Justice, together with American criminologist Scott Decker (2006) and Reforming Juvenile Justice, with her German colleague Frieder Dünkel (2009).
Josine launched the First International Self-Report Delinquency Study (ISRD-1) in 1989, which was followed several years later by a much expanded ISRD-2 in which more than 30 countries collaborated. She had just finished her contribution to the book manuscript on the ISRD-2, when she fell ill. The Many Faces of Youth Crime: Comparing and Contrasting Theoretical Perspectives on Youth Crime is now in press (Springer). Sadly, she will not be around to participate in ISRD-3.
Josine was a true internationalist avant la lettre. Her work is published in Dutch, German, French, Belgian, British and American journals, reports and books. She co-authored several articles, in both English and Dutch, with her daughter Marianne Junger, now professor of Social Safety Studies at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Josine was a member of the Scientific Council of the Council of Europe and – as mentioned before – she served on numerous international expert committees. In 1990, she founded the European Journal on Criminal Policy Research, along with co‐editor Dr. Hans Boutellier. Even after transferring the editorship of this journal over to Ernesto Savona, Josine remained very involved as a very active Editorial Board member, guest editing numerous special issues. To honor her memory, a Special Issue of the EJCPR is in the works, focusing on Josine’s contributions to the field of criminology.1
In 2000, together with several European colleagues, she took the initiative to establish the European Society of Criminology. This was a very crucial turning point for European criminology. Now, some ten years later, it is hard to imagine that the ESC is of such relative recent origin. The annual meetings, the ESC Newsletter, the ESC Working groups (Josine was a member of the Working Group on Juvenile Justice): they have become part and parcel of the European community of crime and deviance scholars. Josine – in her usual hands-on approach – spent many hours and days planning the very first ESC meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. That first meeting, including a boat ride on the lake at night, was very successful and set the bar for subsequent meetings. At the 2010 ESC annual meeting gala in the tent in Liege centre last year, Josine enjoyed the picture retrospective documenting the first ESC decade, including her stint as the second ESC President in 2001. She did not stay for the dance, but during the brisk 20 minute walk back to the hotel commented on the great food, the joy of seeing so many of her good friends and colleagues, and which panels she wanted to attend the next morning.
We mostly know and remember Josine as a gifted social scientist, a creative thinker and a beautiful human being with a big heart. She was also a devoted mother of four daughters, and grandmother of eight. She enjoyed classical music and concerts, loved to go for long walks, organized vacations abroad with all her children and grandchildren, helped the grandkids with their home work, and made delicious couscous. She was a generous hostess, who opened her home for numerous of her international colleagues and friends. She loved to talk politics in the early morning over breakfast, pick your brains over your thoughts about the latest criminological fad in the afternoon, and watch the ten o’clock evening news – always critical but believing in the resilience of the human spirit and the basic goodness of humankind.
Josine’s leadership, her intellectual curiosity, her gentle spirit and her infectious laugh will be sorely missed. Her passion and wisdom will continue to inspire us, in our work as well as in our lives.
1 If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please contact Hans Boutellier (HBoutelier@Verwey-Jonker.nl) or Ineke Haen Marshall (firstname.lastname@example.org)