The Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology, a non-university research institute, was founded in 1973 and represents the sociology of law and criminology in Austria to a great extent. It can draw on a remarkable experience in scientific research that has repeatedly contributed to shape Austrian legislation. Key areas of research are: Institutions of social control, social inclusion/exclusion, law in the books and law in action, mediation and restorative justice, crime and (in)security. The Institute has a reputation for its capacity in planning and designing legal or organisational reforms as well as in analysing its implementation. For instance, the institute played a decisive role in setting up the first pilot project of VOM (Victim offender Mediation) for juveniles in 1984 in Austria and has carried out the accompanying research both for this pilot project and the following one applying VOM to adult offenders. In research and consultancies an objective of the institute is to ally practice and science, data and theory along with contributions from different disciplines in order to advance research, law and practice. The IRKS currently employs 13 scientific staff members, the research team covers different disciplines from sociology to law and political science.
Dr. Walter Hammerschick is managing director and researcher at the Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology. He holds a doctor’s degree in law and a certificate in systemic counselling for organisations. Additionally he has been studying sociology at Bowling Green State University Ohio/USA. He joined the institute in 1991, also having been member (part time) of the management of the Austrian society for probation and social work till 1993. Since 1997 he is a senior researcher and project coordinator. In 2008 he was appointed managing director. His work is very much directed towards a connection of research and practice. Major areas of his interest are: Sanction systems, victim offender mediation and conflict resolution, labour market situation and (re-) integration of ex-prisoners and offenders, guardianship. Walter Hammerschick has been coordinator and partner in diverse European collaborations in research and practical projects (for instance on training and education for prisoners)
Dr. Hemma Mayrhofer studied sociology, political science, contemporary history and gender studies in Vienna and Berlin and is senior researcher at the Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology. Since 1996, she has been conducted empirical social research in different contexts and institutions. Her research interests include social inclusion and exclusion, conflict resolution and mediation, sociology of social work, sociology of organizations and evaluation research in the social field. Hemma Mayrhofer also works as a lecturer at the University of Vienna, Institute of Sociology, and in the master programmes of social work at the Universities of Applied Sciences in Vienna and St. Pölten.