Correctional Treatment and Reentry of Sex Offenders
Sex offenders in the social therapeutic institutions in the Free State of Saxony
This project evaluates the treatment of sexual offenders in Saxony’s social therapeutic institutions through an analysis of the causes and rates of criminal relapse amongst sexual offenders, including an assessment of criminogenic factors, therapeutic measures, and the climate in the correctional facilities. Questions are also raised as to whether improvements can be made to current methods of criminal prognoses. The project will place considerable emphasis on a broad examination and further development of the theoretical understanding of sexual delinquency.
The project’s principal goal is to analyze recidivism amongst sexual offenders. A range of hypotheses are assessed in this regard, including those based on a) criminogenic and offender-related factors, b) therapeutic measures and connecting factors such as climate inside the correctional facility and, c) crime-specific factors.
A secondary goal is to further develop a theoretical understanding of sexual delinquency. In this regard, verification of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s "General Theory of Crime" will be undertaken, as a large number of recidivist sexual offenders do not commit the same type of offense for which they were previously convicted. As such, certain non-offense-specific etiological factors might be of importance. In going beyond the conventional assumption that the success of social therapeutic treatment should be measured by low rates of recidivism, it may be necessary to open a critical debate on other criteria that can be used to measure the effectiveness of social therapeutic measures. Furthermore, the study will seek to better comprehend what life is like for released sexual offenders and provide a theoretical understanding of factors that may lead to criminal relapse.
Given these goals, the following research questions will be examined:
- Can social therapy stop sexual offenders from reoffending?
- Can connections be drawn between what took place in different social therapy and what occurred thereafter?
- Are there underlying differences between violent offenders and sexual offenders? Is it a question of offense-specific groups?
- What dynamic lies behind the "dropout-phenomenon"?
- How can the prediction of recidivism be improved (protective and risk factors)?
- Are results age-specific (juvenile vs. adult offenders)?
- How do released sexual offenders organize their lives and are connections to relapse or legal parole identifiable?
The project design
Sexual offenders and violent offenders in social therapeutic institutions as well as in regular prisons in Saxony were investigated at several points of data acquisition. The data collection phase ran from 2003 to 2017.
There are four time points of measurement:
- t1 at the beginning of arrest (n = 403)
- t2 shortly before release (n = 276)
- t3 1.5 years after release (n = 144; last interview 2013)
- lastly, the analysis of Federal Central Register data (BZR, 2012 and 2017).
The project focuses on an extensive exploration of the prisoners through standardized psychological test procedures for selected features – which are expected to be linked with the development of delinquency – as well as semi-structured interviews with the participants. The prison files of those individuals who were eligible for the project were also analyzed. Furthermore, a staff survey ascertains more information about the intervention and treatment programs. In addition, the investigation included a semi-standardized interview after release to collect information on previous offenses and relapses (reported and unreported). We also collected files from around 300 subjects (matched sample) who did not participate in the personal, in-depth interview. This enables for an analysis of the representativeness of the main sample as well as possible self-selection effects.
The life of sexual offenders after prison
The question of how the life and life course of sexual offenders after prison (as well as possible links to relapse) are examined via four perspectives:
Perspective 1: Comparison of released sexual offenders with released violent offenders.
Perspective 2: Taking a developmental psychology perspective, an assessment of how stress management skills can help cope with environmental pressure, loss, limitations, and threats to one’s self-concept.
Perspective 3: Analysis of risk and protection factors identified in the narratives.
Perspective 4: Importance of the salutogenesis concept for released offenders and their resocialization.