Correctional Treatment and Reentry of Sex Offenders – Sex offenders in the social therapeutic institutions in the Free State of Saxony

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.


Re­search ques­tions

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.


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