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Mojca M Plesnicar


I am a research associate at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law Ljubljana and an assistant professor in Criminology at the University of Ljubljana.

My basis is in Law, but I have studied Criminology at the University of Ljubljana and at the University of Oxford, where I was a Weidenfeld scholar in 2009/2010.

My main fields of research are punishment and decision-making, and sentencing more specifically, but working in a small country necessarily means dealing with multiple focuses, hence, I have found interest in the issues of women and crime, juvenile justice, the use of modern technology in legal decision-making, violent crime and, more recently, sexual crime.

Since completing my PhD in 2013, I have worked on a number of research projects at the Institute of Criminology, including two, in which I acted as a lead researcher: a 2-year post-doc funded by the Slovenian Research Agency on the changes in sentencing in Slovenia since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991, and a study of prison climate in Slovenian prisons commissioned by the Prison Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (ongoing).

With my colleagues, I have piloted a study on judicial decision-making, exploring various psychological mechanisms in the legal context, which is now under consideration for a three-year grant by the Slovenian Research Agency.

I am an active member of the international research community, I have published nationally and internationally, and regularly attend international scholarly gatherings.

I am currently working on a number of papers based on my previous research (sentencing procedure, the introduction of plea-bargaining in Slovenia) and have agreed to prepare chapters for several international collective books in the coming years (on remorse, on the use of big data in judicial decision-making, on mediation in criminal justice). I plan to apply for an ERC starting grant in the next 2 years, focusing on judicial decision-making.

Key Publications

Selected publications in English

Plesničar, M. M., & Kukavica, J. (2019) Punishing the alien: the sentencing of foreign offenders in Slovenia. Two homelands, 49, p. 27-50, doi: 10.3986/dd.v0i49.7252

Plesničar, M. M., & Šugman Stubbs, K. (2018). Subjectivity, algorithms and the courtroom. In A. Završnik (Ed.), Big data, crime and social control (pp. 154–175). Abingdon, New York: Routledge

Tripković, M. & Plesničar, M. M. (2018) Women, crime rates and punishment: a global view. In: M M. Plesnicar, A. Šelih, K. Filipčič (eds.). Ženske in kriminaliteta: značilnosti ženske kriminalitete in družbeno odzivanje nanjo, (Razprave, 36). Ljubljana: Slovenian Academy of Science, Institute of Criminology Ljubljana, p. 9-23.

Roberts, J. V., & Plesničar, M. M. (2015). Sentencing, Legitimacy, and Public Opinion. In G. Meško & J. Tankebe (Eds.), Trust and Legitimacy in Criminal Justice (pp. 33–51). Springer International Publishing.

Plesničar, M. M. (2013). The individualization of punishment: Sentencing in Slovenia. European Journal of Criminology, 10(4), 462–478.

Prisons Research at Cambridge University

The Prisons Research Centre (PRC) was founded in 2000, under the Directorship of Professor Alison Liebling. The Centre has received funding from a wide range of sources, including the Prison Service/NOMS, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the ESRC, KPMG, the Home Office and UKDS (now Kalyx).

The Cambridge Institute of Criminology Prisons Research Centre aims to provide a stimulating research environment in which a coherent strategy of high quality research can be pursued, and integration between funded and non-funded, and applied and theoretical projects can be facilitated. We investigate how prisons operate, socially, morally and operationally, how they are experienced, and the relationship between these moral and social qualities, and their effects.

Members of the PRC team carry out, individually and collectively, methodologically rigorous and theoretically relevant field-based studies addressing problems of human and social values, punishment practices, and the organisation and effects of aspects of prison life. We strive to forge links with other prisons researchers, scholars in the broader fields of criminology and sociology, and with practitioners. Our vision is to develop a rigorous and person-centred model of social inquiry.

You can read more about the latest projects in our Annual Reports.