Area of Re­search:

As part of the broad­er pro­ject "Ju­ven­ile Sexu­al Of­fend­ers in the Cor­rec­tion­al Treat­ment Fa­cil­it­ies of the Free State of Sax­ony", the dis­ser­ta­tion takes as its start­ing point the fact that the trans­ition from pris­on life to life after pris­on is of­ten marked by chal­lenges and un­cer­tain­ties, es­pe­cially con­cern­ing factors such as in­de­pend­ence and autonomy. Young of­fend­ers are one group that can have par­tic­u­lar dif­fi­culties re­ad­just­ing to the new, post-pris­on en­vir­on­ment. High ex­pect­a­tions are placed on vari­ous act­ors in the ‘trans­ition man­age­ment’ field and on the young of­fend­ers them­selves. The dis­ser­ta­tion will provide a qual­it­at­ive ana­lys­is of how a group of young of­fend­ers ex­per­i­enced post-pris­on re­in­teg­ra­tion in­to the broad­er com­munity and make sug­ges­tions con­cern­ing where pos­sible im­prove­ments to the trans­ition pro­cess might be made.

Crim­in­o­lo­gic­al life course re­search, as well as de­vel­op­ment­al crim­in­o­logy and de­sist­ance re­search, are sci­entif­ic meth­ods that can be used to mon­it­or the be­gin­ning, the con­tinu­ation, and the ter­min­a­tion of crim­in­al ca­reers and the dy­nam­ics of crim­in­al activ­ity. These meth­ods seek to identi­fy cer­tain turn­ing points, trans­itions, and tra­ject­or­ies that demon­strate the pro­ced­ur­al char­ac­ter of crim­in­al activ­ity over the life-span of an in­di­vidu­al. In re­cent dec­ades, re­search res­ults have shown that stable re­la­tion­ships, mar­riage, or em­ploy­ment are in fact not enough – at least on their own – to bring about the ces­sa­tion of crim­in­al be­ha­vi­or. Aca­dem­ic lit­er­at­ure in this field has also re­vealed cer­tain con­structs, such as agency or la­beling pro­cesses, that may hinder or en­cour­age suc­cess­ful post-pris­on re­in­teg­ra­tion and the ter­min­a­tion of crim­in­al activ­ity. Yet, while much de­sist­ance re­search has been done, ex­pli­cit mech­an­isms and trig­gers that may break the crime cycle re­main elu­sive.

In re­cent years, re­search in­to de­sist­ance has be­come a key top­ic in crim­in­o­logy. Nev­er­the­less, re­search has thus far been un­able to fully un­der­stand the ex­pli­cit mech­an­isms of ac­tion that lead to the abate­ment and/or aban­don­ment of crim­in­al life courses. Giv­en the cent­ral im­port­ance of the Agency Concept to the study, a com­bind­ed bio­graph­ic­al-re­con­struct­ive meth­od of ana­lys­is will be used.

Meth­ods and Pro­ject Goal:

The doc­tor­al pro­ject deals with trans­itions and tra­ject­or­ies of young of­fend­ers after a peri­od of in­car­cer­a­tion. There­fore a life-course per­spect­ive is ap­plied to study young men's trans­ition from pris­on to free­dom. The qual­it­at­ive ana­lys­is is based on 24 in-depth, semi-struc­tured in­ter­views with formerly in­car­cer­ated ju­ven­ile or ad­oles­cent vi­ol­ent and sexu­al of­fend­ers, one year after pris­on re­lease.

The main ob­ject­ive of this was to shed light on the dif­fer­ent path­ways that un­fold after re­lease from pris­on and find out what leads to the ter­min­a­tion of a crim­in­al ca­reer. The two main goals to study are (1) to un­der­stand the role of Agency in the de­sist­ance pro­cess and (2) to de­vel­op an em­pir­ic­ally-groun­ded the­ory which can be used to bet­ter re­in­teg­rate pris­on re­leasees. Giv­en the li­fe­course-ori­ented un­der­stand­ing of path­ways these ob­ject­ives re­quire an ap­pre­ci­ation of in­di­vidu­al-psy­cho­lo­gic­al and so­cio-struc­tur­al factors from a pro­ced­ur­al point of view. There­fore the studys' meth­od­o­lo­gic­al frame­work is based on a com­bin­a­tion of Groun­ded-The­ory ap­proach and Agency-ana­lys­is.

The over­all aim of the study is not to ex­plain longterm De­sist­ance or reas­ons for re­cidiv­ism but to identi­fy the vari­ous path­ways, which in the sense of "at-risk"-tra­ject­or­ies in the li­fe­course open up pos­sib­ilites for change or serve as re­stric­tions for a crime-free life.


The pro­ject con­trib­utes to ex­ist­ing Anglo-Amer­ic­an re­search on de­sist­ance and provides an em­pir­ic­al mod­el, the so-called ZA­RIA-Schema, to identi­fy five core-vari­ables con­sidered cent­ral to de­sist­ance pro­cesses.
This ap­proach al­lows for the sub­tleties in­volved in de­sist­ence pro­cesses (in this case, for former ju­ven­ile vi­ol­ent and sexu­al of­fend­ers) to be honed in on. Us­ing the ZA­RIA-Schema, the dy­nam­ics of dif­fer­ent – and highly in­di­vidu­al – path­ways after pris­on re­lease can be ex­amined to de­term­ine the in­ter­play between psy­cho­lo­gic­al and so­cio-struc­tur­al factors. The res­ults sug­gest that the em­pir­ic­al mod­el can find ap­plic­a­tion re­gard­less of the age of the of­fend­er or the type of of­fense com­mit­ted.