The project investigates life-courses and reentry-processes after prison release. It provides an insight into the social reality and lifeworld of released sex offenders, focusing on reentry and efforts to reestablish a so-called “normal” life.

Re­search Top­ic and Goals

This doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion pro­ject forms part of the lar­ger pro­ject on Sexu­al Of­fend­ers in the So­cial Thera­peut­ic In­sti­tu­tions of the Free State of Sax­ony. Both pro­jects share the same source of data.

Al­though de­sist­ance has be­come a ma­jor top­ic in re­cent crim­in­o­lo­gic­al re­search, the ac­tu­al life-course of re­leased sex of­fend­ers is rarely ex­amined. Of­ten, cer­tain as­pects which con­trib­ute to de­sist­ance or per­sist­ence are ana­lyzed without tak­ing in­to con­sid­er­a­tion their dy­nam­ics and in­ter­re­la­tion­ships. Fur­ther­more, the sub­ject­ive views of re­leased pris­on­ers about their situ­ation are reg­u­larly dis­reg­arded, even though qual­it­at­ive data of­fers a broad in­sight in­to the life-course and oth­er factors that in­flu­ence crim­in­al ca­reers.

The pro­ject in­vest­ig­ates life-courses and reentry-pro­cesses after re­lease. The study is ex­plor­at­ive in nature and in­cor­por­ates an in­duct­ive meth­od­o­lo­gic­al ap­proach. This provides an in­sight in­to the so­cial real­ity and life­world of re­leased sex of­fend­ers. Thus, dif­fer­ent strategies of reentry and ef­forts to rees­tab­lish a so-called “nor­mal” life can be traced.


At present, the study has ana­lyzed 69 semi-nar­rat­ive in­ter­views of re­leased sex of­fend­ers. On av­er­age, the in­ter­views took place 17 months after the sub­jects’ re­lease from pris­on. At the be­gin­ning of each in­ter­view, an open-nar­ra­tion im­pulse en­cour­aged the re­spond­ents to talk about their reentry ex­per­i­ence in gen­er­al. Later on, the in­ter­view-guideline fo­cused more spe­cific­ally on post-re­lease trans­ition and liv­ing con­di­tions (e.g., hous­ing, so­cial bonds, work).

A suit­able meth­od­o­lo­gic­al ap­proach was de­veloped from the out­set. On the one hand, a high num­ber of in­ter­views had to be man­aged; on the oth­er hand, paradigms of an in­duct­ive ana­lys­is were to be used. Due to these re­quire­ments, the ana­lys­is was car­ried out in two steps, be­gin­ning with an in-depth ana­lys­is of a sub-sample (n=12) fol­low­ing Groun­ded The­ory prin­ciples (Strauss, Corb­in 1996) and per­form­ing a short form of Kruse’s meth­od­o­lo­gic­al ap­proach (Kruse 2015). Based on the in­sights gained, an in­duct­ive cod­ing-guide for the second step was de­veloped. In­spired by Fuchs-Hein­ritz (2009; “Quer­schnit­tauswer­tung”), the whole sample of in­ter­views n=69 was then ana­lyzed in a more sys­tem­at­ic man­ner us­ing the in­duct­ive cod­ing-guide. This pro­ced­ure is sim­il­ar to Schmidt’s (2000) ap­proach.

Cur­rent Pro­ject Status

After the in­clu­sion of vari­ous the­or­et­ic­al con­cepts, the cod­ing-guide con­sisted of 13 dif­fer­ent cat­egor­ies. For ex­ample, we iden­ti­fied dif­fi­culties, change, so­cial en­vir­on­ment, de­sist­ance-strategies, pseudo-re­flex­iv­ity and the in­tern­al­iz­a­tion of stig­mat­iz­a­tion.

Dur­ing the ana­lys­is, a core-cat­egory emerged: “(re)es­tab­lish­ing nor­mal­ity” after pris­on re­lease. At present, this seems to be the main dy­nam­ic shap­ing reentry-pro­cesses after pris­on re­lease and it oc­curs in dif­fer­ent fa­cets. Fur­ther­more, as a core-cat­egory, rees­tab­lish­ing nor­mal­ity is linked to all the oth­er cat­egor­ies and hence to the cor­res­pond­ing areas of life.