Reoffending Study in Young Offender Institutions from 2004 to 2020

Reoffending and Long-Term Legal Probation after Enforcement of Youth Custody

Project duration: 2003 - 2020

Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Heinz Cornel

Project staff: Dipl. Psych. Silke Lüdemann

The long-term research project aims to collect data on the social and legal biography and the social assistance needs of prisoners in the Berlin and Brandenburg juvenile detention system, and to observe the life course of these offenders with regard to recidivism and return to prison over a period of 16 years. There are major shortcomings, with particular regard to the long-term nature of the survey, because the few smaller surveys are often qualification papers (dissertations) or have been undertaken within the scope of tightly limited project financing. Frequently, however, new offences only become apparent after more than three years, and statements about the end of the criminal career, especially with regard to very young prisoners, make sense only after a period of more than ten years.

In 2004, the data of all young men released from young offender facilities in Berlin and Brandenburg during that year were collected on the basis of prisoner personnel files, including juvenile office files and judgments. In the second to fifth survey phase, the aim is to identify the relapses of these individuals within 16 years of their release and to link them to the basic data.

Due to the recording of a complete year of release in 2004 and the first inquiry to the Federal Central and Education Register for recidivism records for 2008, the study is already well advanced. The second request was made in 2012, the third in 2016 and the fourth and last will be made in 2020. All registered offenders will then be at least 30 years old, and the majority will be 36 and older.

The reoffending data collection via requests to the Federal Central Registry is the decisive final step. Repeated requests take place every four years because the limitation period is five years and entries are subsequently deleted. Apart from deaths, the data of which are also deleted immediately, all new convictions are thus recorded, including the nature of all new offences. This approach also makes it possible to track the long-term exit from criminal careers and even detect new offending after long periods, which most other recidivism investigations do not show.


Prof. Dr. Heinz Cornel

Leitung Zentrum für Weiterbildung

Professor für Recht/Kriminologie

Heinz Cornel