Dirk van Zyl Smit

Emeritus Professor

Dirk van Zyl Smit is a Senior Research Scholar and Emeritus Professor of Criminology. Previously, from 1982 until the end of 2005, he was Professor of Criminology and Dean of the Faculty of Law from 1990 to 1995. He is also an Emeritus Professor of Comparative and International Penal law at the University of Nottingham, where he held a chair from 2001 to 2020. In addition, he has been a visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Catholic University of Leuven, and a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow and later a visiting Global Professor at New York University School of Law in 2012 and 2017.

See more information see the Centre of Criminology website  and   https://www.dirkvanzylsmit.net/.



Life Imprisonment in Asia, (edited with Catherine Appleton and Giao Vucong) Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2023

Incorporating the Nelson Mandela Rules into National Prison Legislation: A Model Prison Act and a Commentary, Vienna, UNODC, 2022.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Prison Conditions and Penal Policy (Edited with Frieder Dünkel and Stefan Harrendorf), London: Routledge 2022.

Life Imprisonment a Global Human Rights Analysis (with Catherine Appleton), Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2019. Published in Spanish (with additional contributions by Luis Arroyo Zapatero and Beatriz López Lorca) as Cadena Perpetua Un análisis global desde los derechos humanos  Valenica: Tirant lo Blanch, 2022.

Life Imprisonment and Human Rights (edited with Catherine Appleton) Oxford: Hart, 2016 (paperback 2019)

European Penology?  (Edited with Tom Daems and Sonja Snacken) Oxford: Hart, 2013.

United Nations Handbook on the International Transfer of Sentenced Persons (with Roisin Mulgrew) Vienna, UNODC, 2012.

Kriminalität, Kriminalpolitik, strafrechtliche Sanktionspraxis und Gefangenenraten im europäischen Vergleich] (Edited with Frieder Dünkel, Tapio Lappi-Sepälä, and Christine Morgenstern). Mönchengladbach: Forum-Verlag Godesberg, 2010, 2 vols.

Release from Prison: European policy and practice (edited with N Padfield and F Dünkel). Willan, Uffculme, 2010 460 pp.

Principles of European Prison Law and Policy; Penology and Human Rights (with S Snacken) Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009. Published in Spanish (with additional contributions by Luis Arroyo Zapatero and José Luis de la Cuesta) as Principios De Derecho y Política Penitenciaria Europea: Penología y Derecho Humanos Valenica: Tirant loBlanch (June 2013).

United Nations Handbook on Alternatives to Imprisonment, Vienna: UNODC, 2007.

Taking Life Imprisonment Seriously in National and International Law The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 2002.

Imprisonment today and tomorrow: international perspectives on prisoners' rights and prison conditions: (edited with Frieder Dünkel) 2nd Edition. Kluwer 2001, 1st Edition 1991.  

Prison Labour: Salvation or Slavery? International Perspectives (edited with Frieder Dünkel) Ashgate/Dartmouth, Aldershot, 1999,

South African Prison Law and Practice Butterworths, Durban, 1992, xiv & 447 pp.

Towards Justice: State Control and Crime in South Africa: (edited with D S Hansson) Oxford University Press, Cape Town, 1990.


“The European Human Rights System and the Right to Life Seen through Suicide Prevention in Places of Detention: Between Risk Management and Punishment” (with Gaëtan Cliquennois) (2021) 23 Human Rights Law Review 1–28.

 “Can European human rights instruments limit the power of the national state to punish? A tale of two Europes” (with Gaëtan Cliquennois and Sonja Snacken) (2021) 18 European Journal of Criminology 11–32.

“The Paradox of Scottish Life Imprisonment” (with Katrina Morrison) (2020) 28 European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 76-101.

“International Prison Standards and Transnational Criminal Justice” (2019) 4 UCI Journal of International, Transnational and Comparative Law, 101-127.

 “Un acercamiento a la jurisprudencia del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos sobre la cadena perpetua y a su posible proyección sobre la prisión permanente revisable en España” (with Cristina Rodríguez Yagüe) (2019) 31 Revista General de Derecho Penal, 1-31.

“Rehabilitation as a Dominant Idea in European Prison Law: Problems and Prospects” (2018) New Series, No. 1, Romanian Journal of Sociological Studies, 9–18.

“The Ultimate Penalty” (with Catherine Appleton) (2018) 19 New Philosopher 88-93.

“Lebenslang in Europa: Die neue Rechtsprechung des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte“ (with Angelika Reichstein,) (2017) 4 Forum Strafvollzug 229-234.

„Réhabilitation et une perspective de libération pour toute personne condamnée à la réclusion à perpétuité“ (with V. Vouleli) 2016 AJ Pénal 322-325

 “Human Dignity and Life Imprisonment: The Pope Enters the Debate” (with M. Abellán Almenara) (2015), Human Rights Law Review, 369–376.

 „Lebenslange Freiheitsstrafe in einer globalisierten Welt“ (2015) 27 Neue Kriminalpolitik 171-180.

 “‘One cannot legislate kindness’: Ambiguities in European legal instruments on non-custodial sanctions” (with Sonja Snacken and David Hayes) (2015) 17 (1) Punishment and Society 3–26.