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Prisons Research Centre



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.

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