The Institute comprises two departments of which one engages in research in the area of criminal law and one in the area of criminology. Each department is led by a director. Together, the two directors represent the Institute. They also jointly coordinate and develop the Institute’s research activities. The Department of Criminal Law is divided into country and topical sections. The country sections, which follow the legal developments in the relevant country or group of countries, participate in department-wide comparative criminal law projects and are responsible for keeping the holdings of the library up-to-date. Researchers from both country and topical sections prepare expert opinions in response to requests, primarily from German criminal justice agencies.
The Institute is part of the Max Planck Society and belongs to the Society's Human Sciences Section. The directors of the Institute are also Scientific Members of the Max Planck Society and, as qualified honorary professors, members of the Law Faculty of the Universität Freiburg. In 2005, two External Scientific Members were appointed: Prof. Dr. Walter Perron and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Frisch. Prof. Perron and Prof. Frisch, both of the University of Freiburg, conduct outstanding research in areas of interest to the Institute. Their appointments will enhance the Institute’s relationship with the Law Faculty of the University of Freiburg.