European Perspectives On Long-Term Imprisonment Research Paper

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Sentences of long terms of imprisonment seem to be a fashion in criminal politics that never passes. They are readily explained as necessary to protect the public from dangerous offenders (incapacitation) and as being deserved for very serious crimes (retribution). These simple ideas get more complicated with a closer look at what kinds of sanctions consist of long terms of detention in prison, what they are aimed at, who is sentenced accordingly, and what happens to long-term prisoners while detained.

A European perspective has the benefit of a wide range of sanctioning and prison systems with a common legal frame of reference, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. At the same time, European criminal justice systems disagree on many aspects that are relevant for long-term imprisonment, such as the specific sanctions, their aims, and the conditions of their execution. Thus, a European perspective offers the whole range of problems in a condensed form.


European Prison Law

A European perspective on imprisonment that takes into account common legal requirements needs to go beyond the European Union. Although cooperation in penal matters and human rights protection are important political issues of the EU, it has not yet produced any official documents relating to long-term imprisonment (for developments: van Zyl Smit and Snacken 2009, p. 27 ff.). One reason is that all EU member states are also members of the Council of Europe, an international organization with 47 member states and even more criminal justice and prison systems. Since its founding in 1949, the Council of Europe has been a main promoter of human rights protection in Europe with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) as the principal document. The ECHR is legally binding for the member states, and compliance may be assessed before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, established in 1959) in an individual application process. In addition, the Council of Europe gives nonbinding recommendations that specify the ECHR in terms of minimum standards and are used by the ECtHR as well as national courts when interpreting the ECHR and domestic law, respectively. Two recommendations are particularly important for matters of long-term imprisonment, the Rec(2003)23 on the management by prison administrations of life sentence and other long-term prisoners and the Rec(2006) 2 on the European Prison Rules. Another relevant body is the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT, established in 1989) that monitors the material conditions of and develops standards for specific situations of detention (van Zyl Smit and Snacken 2009, pp. 9–24). Within this system, it is agreed that imprisonment serves as punishment in itself, not as an occasion for punishment, and that prisoners “retain all rights that are not lawfully taken away by the decision sentencing them or remanding them in custody” (European Prison Rules, rule 2).

Definition Of Long-Term Imprisonment

If a term of imprisonment is thought of as already long depends on the maximum length of sentences that a legal system offers and probably even more on the sentencing practice in a given jurisdiction. In Europe, there is a large variety in both regards: In Croatia, Norway, Portugal, and Spain, the law does not provide for life sentences as a punishment whereas, e.g., in Lithuania, there is the possibility of life without parole. Then, there are jurisdictions such as England and Wales, Germany, and Norway where criminal courts may issue orders of detention in prison after a prison sentence for long or even indeterminate periods as a means of protection of the public against recidivism. Regarding the length of sentences prisoners are actually serving, the Annual Penal Statistics of the Council of Europe (SPACE I) for 2010 show four jurisdictions where more than 10 % of the prison population were serving life sentences (England and Wales, Greece, Northern Ireland, Scotland) with a mean for all member states of 3.1 %. But there are also seven jurisdictions where more than a third of the 2010 prison population were serving a sentence of less than 1 year (mean: 16.4 %). Given this wide range, the Rec(2003)23 on long-term prisoners defines its target group as prisoners serving a life sentence or a prison sentence or sentences totaling 5 years or more.

Such long terms of detention in prison may be justified in several ways. The two basic ideas are, firstly, penalties as a response to past criminal behavior that are meant to be proportionate to the amount of guilt the offender has incurred and that carry moral censure (retribution) and, secondly, measures on occasion of an offense that are justified with the offender’s alleged dangerousness and the need for public protection against future crimes (prevention, incapacitation). In both instances, at least diminished criminal responsibility is required. The implementation of these ideas in European criminal justice systems differs considerably (Padfield 2010, p. 25 ff.):

  • Some systems provide only for commensurate penalties (Croatia, Slovenia).
  • Some provide for possibilities to exceed such penalties for certain categories of offenders (e.g., recidivists, dangerous offenders) which are justified with either just deserts or public protection (Belgium).
  • Some use life sentences for public protection after an individually or generally fixed term has been served. Release may then only be granted if there is no considerable risk of recidivism (England and Wales, Germany).
  • There are two-track systems that distinguish between penalties and measures of public protection where such measures are imposed or reserved at the time of the sentence (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland).
  • Some systems allow for the imposition of preventive detention at the time of release (Germany, Switzerland).

Prison Population In Long-Term Imprisonment In Europe

Table 1 provides data on prison population rates per 100 000 inhabitants and percentages of prisoners serving long prison sentences derived from SPACE I 2000, 2005, and 2010. For reasons of clarity, figures are shown only for EU member states and not the whole Council of Europe. Taking into account the huge differences in the size of general and prison populations between countries, absolute numbers would not be informative (explanation of these differences: Lappi-Sepp€al€a 2012). The data show that both figures did not develop homogenously. There seems to be a trend in Western European countries with a growing prison population in general and an increasing percentage of long-term prisoners (Report accompanying the Recommendation (2003)23 on long-term prisoners, §17). In 2010, there were only three countries with less than 20 % of their prison population serving 5 years or more, while there were six with a share of at least 50 %.

European Perspectives on Long-Term Imprisonment, Table 1European Perspectives on Long-Term Imprisonment, Table 1 Prison population rate (per 100 000 inhabitants, rounded) and percentage of long-term prisoners (5 years – life sentence) in member states of the European Union, 2000, 2005, 2010

There are no European statistics that provide sociodemographic and offense-related data for specific groups of prisoners, and many member states do not have such national statistics. Thus, it is not possible to give a more detailed description. The report accompanying the Recommendation (2003)23 on long-term prisoners states “that murder, manslaughter, serious sexual offences, robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, involvement in organized crime, crimes against the security of the realm and against humanity commonly lead to long-term and life imprisonment” (} 10). Still there are considerable differences in the specific legal requirements and the actual minimum – and maximum – sentences for such offenses (concerning life sentences: Griffin and O’Donnell 2012, p. 611 f.).

Research on mental health found that many European long-term prisoners suffer psychological distress at a clinically relevant level (Dudeck et al. 2011, with an overview of studies on prisoners’ mental health in general p. 405; Grounds 2004). The prison systems in Europe are not prepared for adequate care during incarceration, and psychiatric aftercare for released persons is insufficient (Salize et al. 2007).

Key Issues And Controversies

Long-Term Imprisonment, Dangerousness, And The Prison Regime

The alleged dangerousness is one justification for long prison sentences. The term “dangerousness” is not self-explanatory but largely subjected to zeitgeist. If it is used as a rationale for a long prison sentence, it usually describes predicted future behavior of the convict/prisoner, meaning a certain risk of recidivism after release, although it is not clear to what kind of offenses or damage it relates, how certain this risk should be, and, most importantly, how this risk should be predicted (van Zyl Smit 2006, p. 415 ff.). “Dangerousness” may also describe a present risk for the physical integrity of others or the prisoner her-/himself (personal safety) or a risk for the external security, e.g., through violent escapes. Not all of these forms of dangerousness are inherent to all long-term prisoners – some may even not be dangerous at all – and these different forms of dangerousness should call for different precautions in prison.

The Rec(2003)23 on long-term prisoners (Snacken and van Zyl Smit 2009) refers to this problem most prominently in its general principles. The “security and safety principle” (no. 6) requires to differentiate between the risks posed to the external community and those to persons inside the prison including the risk of auto-aggressive behavior. It is recommended not to segregate long-term prisoners only because of their sentence (nonsegregation principle, no. 7). In addition, an individual risk and needs assessment should be used to offer appropriate interventions to address not only the risk of recidivism after release but also the present risk for him-/ herself and the surroundings that a prisoner may pose (no. 10). In its section on security and safety in prison, the recommendation recognizes that segregation of individual prisoners might be necessary, but it should be avoided or at least reduced in time. Furthermore, maximum security units are described as a last resort. The regime in such units again should distinguish between the different types of dangerousness (no. 20 b). But even in maximum security units, there should be a relaxed atmosphere, relative openness, and freedom of movement, and security measures should only be used to the extent that is necessary and with respect to human dignity and human rights. According to the European Prison Rules, solitary confinement shall be used as a punishment only in very exceptional cases and for as short as possible (Rule 60.5).

If national prison administrations adhere to these rules is quite another question. Internationally comparative research on prison conditions is scarce; to date there seems to be only one cross-national study on prison conditions in long-term imprisonment in Europe (Drenkhahn et al. 2013). Information is provided in the reports of the CPT on its visits to member states of the Council of Europe. The Committee’s members visit prisons and other places of deprivation of liberty and talk to prisoners in private. The observations are summarized in a report that will usually be published on the CPT’s website. Based on these reports, the CPT has developed standards that serve as a rule for future visits (CPT 2011).

Already as early as 1991, the CPT paid special attention to solitary confinement. It stated that such a regime can amount to inhuman or degrading treatment and therefore should be as short as possible (CPT 2011, p. 20; Smith 2006). In 2011, the CPT pointed out the considerably higher rate of suicide among prisoners in solitary confinement than among the general prison population, concluding that solitary confinement on its own has the potential to amount to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. According to the case law of the ECtHR, solitary confinement is only justified if it is proportionate to the risk; if it is lawful in domestic law; if it is accountable, meaning that all decisions must be documented; if it is necessary; and if it is nondiscriminatory. For the material conditions of solitary confinement, the same standards apply as for other prisoner accommodation, that is the European Prison Rules. The regime in solitary confinement should subject the prisoners to no more restrictions than necessary for their safe and orderly confinement (CPT 2011, p. 29 ff., 35 f.). These recommendations show that the CPT has found in the recent past that even basic requirements are not met.

A common practice is the transfer of troublesome prisoners to another establishment or even a chain of transfers. The CPT describes the counterproductive effects of this practice (CPT 2011, p. 20; van Zyl Smit and Snacken 2009, p. 271 ff.).

Another widespread problem is inter-prisoner violence. In this context, the CPT stresses the importance of a good quality of staff-prisoner relations and a good prison climate in general. It holds that it is most important that staff have appropriate interpersonal communication skills and use them (CPT 2011, p. 23) rather than weapons or other instruments of force. This is backed up by recent research (e.g., Liebling 2004; Snacken 2005). Liebling (2004, p. 154 f.) identified the relationship between prisoners and staff and social aspects of the regime as key elements of what really matters in prison. Snacken (2005, p. 335) found in her study on violence in Belgian prisons that although increased positive personal contacts would lead to more arguments and conflicts, the level of all forms of violence was lower than in prisons with a strict regime and less personal contacts.

The CPT also gives recommendations for high security units and life-sentenced and other long-term prisoners. Although high security risk prisoners will be segregated from the rest of the prison population, the regime in their units should be relatively relaxed, providing them with opportunities to meet fellow prisoners in the unit and with a variety of activities from which they can freely choose as well as adequate treatment programs. Humane treatment of the prisoners as well as effective control and staff security should be maintained with the help of positive relations between staff and prisoners. Again, the transfer to such a special regime should only last as long as necessary (CPT 2011, p. 27 f.).

With regard to long-term and especially life-sentenced prisoners, the CPT reports that “during some of its visits, the CPT has found that the situation of such prisoners left much to be desired in terms of material conditions, activities and possibilities for human contact. Further, many such prisoners were subject to special restrictions likely to exacerbate the deleterious effects inherent in long-term imprisonment; examples of such restrictions are permanent separation from the rest of the prison population, handcuffing whenever the prisoner is taken out of his cell, prohibition of communication with other prisoners, and limited visit entitlements” (CPT 2011, p. 28). The CPT points out that this indiscriminate application of restrictions to all such prisoners does not take into account the individual risk they may (or may not) present. So at least in some prisons in Europe, many non-desirable practices that are commonly justified with security considerations are part of the regular regime for long-term prisoners.

Effects Of Long-Term Imprisonment

Much of the research on the effects of imprisonment in general has been conducted in prisons where long prison sentences are executed. Most of the early studies starting in the 1950s came from North America, but there is also a lot of research on a wide range of aspects of imprisonment in Europe (overview: Liebling and Maruna 2005; van Zyl Smit and Snacken 2009, p. 47 ff.; Zamble and Porporino 1988, p. 7 ff.; examples of European research: Chauvenet et al. 2008; Faugeron et al. 1996; Liebling 2004; Sparks et al. 1996).

In his classical study on a maximum security prison, Sykes (1958) coined the term “pains of imprisonment.” These are:

  • the loss of liberty,
  • the deprivation of goods and services,
  • the frustration of sexual desire,
  • the deprivation of autonomy, and
  • the deprivation of security.

Thus, the prison as a bureaucratic entity takes away prisoners’ opportunities to express themselves as individuals and to exert control over their lives, while assuming this control and regulating the lives of prisoners with indifference to their individual needs. Prisoners respond to this situation with creating a “society of captives” with its own rules and values in order to overcome some of the deprivations and regain a certain level of control over their lives (see also Goffman 1961: “total institution”).

Since then, a vast amount of research has been done. Although there are many studies that were able to show detrimental effects for psychological well-being such as diminishing self-esteem, a slower reaction time, and an increased hostility, there were others that found no evidence of psychological or intellectual deterioration or even identified desirable effects (van Zyl Smit and Snacken 2009, p. 50 ff.). These latter results led to a growing criticism from the 1970s onwards by psychologists of the mainly sociological studies on the “pains of imprisonment.” This work was seen as methodologically unsound (qualitative vs. quantitative) and ideologically biased (contextual vs. individual). Much of the later research concentrated on coping with and adaptation to imprisonment and suggested that prisoners cope relatively well with their situation and at least do not change for the worse (Liebling and Maruna 2005, p. 10 ff.). Zamble and Porporino (1988, p. 149 ff.) described this as a “deep freeze.” They found that prisoners remained mainly unchanged by the experience of imprisonment: in the face of problems, they would use the same coping strategies after release than before incarceration (Zamble and Porporino 1988, p. 152).

This finding has since been challenged by research that takes into account both the individual and the context (Haney 2005). The “deep freeze” itself might even be seen as a detrimental effect. In Jamieson’s and Grounds’ (2005) studies, ex-prisoners reported that after release they entered society on the very level of personal development that they had reached at the time of incarceration. This was felt to be quite disturbing, because it meant that in their late 30s or early 40s, they only had the life experience of someone in their early 20s. Other than their friends who had remained free, they had not had the opportunity to use this time for personal development and for settling down, finding a steady job, and having a family and children. Others (Irwin and Owen 2005; Murray 2005; Snacken 2005) describe aspects of prison life that work against the official aim of imprisonment (correction, rehabilitation, reintegration, preparation for the crime-free life of a responsible citizen) such as violence in prison, loss of agency (strict schedule organized around the shifts of uniformed staff, only small room for personal choice), the exposure to transmittable diseases (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, tuberculosis), loss of contact with family and caring others, and economic problems (debts, maintenance claims, exploitation through prison work). The research on prison climate and “what matters in prison” shows that social characteristics of prison life such as respect, trust, humanity, relations with staff and other prisoners, support, fairness, order, security, well-being, personal development, family contact, decency, the use of power, and giving meaning to the punishment (Liebling 2004) are major factors for surviving imprisonment. High levels of distress concerning security, family contact, fairness, and respect may even increase suicidality (Liebling et al. 2005).

To conclude, long-term imprisonment has the potential to be a very harmful experience – if and to what extent depends on characteristics of the individual prisoner, material conditions of the environment, and social interaction in prison. Thus, the prison experience not only depends on the official concept of a given system as, e.g., stated in prison laws, but much more on the microcosm that a prison and its population form.

Human Rights Issues Of Long Prison Sentences

These findings hint at considerable infractions of human rights that go with imprisonment, but may be more severe for long-term prisoners given the special restrictions for dangerousness and security reasons. Living conditions in prison can add up to a violation of the prohibition of torture (art. 3 ECHR; e.g., ECtHR, Peers v Greece, 19 April 2001, application no. 28524/95; ECtHR, Kalashnikov v Russia, 15 July 2002, application no. 47095/99); the right to respect for private and family life (art. 8 ECHR) is seriously restricted, and there may be more restrictions of fundamental freedoms and rights. Even the right to life (art. 2 ECHR) may be touched in material conditions that foster the spreading of diseases and offer no adequate health care.

Apart from these human rights problems during the execution of a prison sentence, there are other human rights issues with long-term imprisonment. Firstly, there is the question if whole life sentences or even life sentences with the prospect of release are acceptable at all (Appleton and Grøver 2007; van Zyl Smit 2006). Since the death penalty has been abolished in all circumstances in most of the Council of Europe member states (44 of 47; Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances; ECtHR [Grand Chamber], O¨ calan v Turkey, 12 May 2005, application no. 46221/99, }} 150 ff.), life imprisonment is the harshest criminal penalty at hand on the continent. But European criminal justice systems do not agree if life sentences are acceptable at all and, if so, whether the same is true for life without parole.

Some countries do not allow for life sentences at all: in Portugal, it is outlawed by the constitution, other countries just do not provide for it in the criminal code. The reasons for this are a humanitarian approach to punishment with a strong emphasis on human dignity and the view that the time of imprisonment has to be used for reeducation, i.e., preparation for a future crime-free life not by deterrence. In this perspective, a life sentence always bears the risk that the convict will never have the possibility to show that his efforts were successful (van Zyl Smit 2006, p. 410 f.).

Other criminal justice systems provide for life sentences, but every convict must have a chance for release. One example is Germany where the Federal Constitutional Court decided in 1977 (BVerfGE 45, p. 187, 21 June 1977) on the constitutionality of the mandatory life sentence for murder, using almost the same arguments as used against the life sentence in other countries. The Court held that this sanction is not per se unconstitutional, because the legislator has the discretion to choose the heaviest penalty at its disposal for the crime of murder as this crime violates the highest legal interest, the right to life. But at the same time, the constitutional “principle of resocialization” requires the state to offer life prisoners a concrete and fundamentally realizable expectation of release and a prison regime that prepares these prisoners for release (BVerfGE 45, p. 187, 245 f.; van Zyl Smit 2006, p. 408 f.). The practice of release through executive clemency did not meet the requirements of legal certainty, and therefore, Germany introduced rules for parole in life sentence cases into the Criminal Code in 1981. Other examples where constitutional courts adopted the same opinion are France and Italy. In England, on the other hand, whole life sentences are seen as in principle acceptable for the most heinous crimes for retribution and deterrence (R v Home Secretary, Ex parte Hindley [2001] 1 AC 410 [HL (E)]; Appleton and Grøver 2007, p. 603 ff.). The ECtHR has not had to decide yet if a whole life sentence is contrary to the ECHR and in particular if a life sentence without the formal prospect of release is an inhuman or degrading punishment in the sense of art. 3 ECHR. In the cases where this question was raised, the prisoners had some sort of prospect for release (van Zyl Smit 2006, p. 409 f.).

The second question concerns measures that are considered as nonpunitive but preventive by national legislation and that are in substance long-term or life imprisonment (preventive detention). The problem is how this infraction of the right to liberty (art. 5 ECHR) can be justified (Drenkhahn et al. 2012; Merkel 2011). For a long time, the ECtHR could easily define preventive detention as an exception of the right to liberty in the sense of art. 5(1)a ECHR, “the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court”, because the relevant domestic laws (e.g., in Belgium and Germany) required that the sanction was issued in the same judgment as the finding of guilt and the prison sentence. But from the end of the 1990s onwards, legislators in Europe introduced rules to broaden the scope of preventive detention. In 1998, Germany replaced the absolute limit of 10 years on the length of the first term of preventive detention by a provision that allowed for its indefinite extension even in cases where preventive detention had already been ordered. In 2004, the possibility to impose preventive detention at the time of release from the prison sentence was introduced. This possibility was also introduced in Switzerland in 2002, in force since 2007. In a series of judgments against Germany, the ECtHR decided that the retroactive extension of preventive detention over the 10-year limit was not justified by art. 5(1)a ECHR, because it was not causally linked to a conviction (M. v Germany, 17 December 2009, application no. 19359/04; Drenkhahn et al. 2012, p. 170 ff.). Consequently, the Court held that a preventive detention that was imposed at the end of the prison sentence on occasion of the same offense was not a detention “after conviction” (Haidn v Germany, 13 January 2011, application no. 6587/04; Merkel 2011).

The ECtHR considered “the lawful detention [.. .] of persons of unsound mind” (art. 5(1)e ECHR) as a justification in the above-mentioned cases but found that its requirements were not substantiated (Drenkhahn et al. 2012, p. 172; Merkel 2011, p. 973). Nevertheless, this ground seems promising to politicians and legislators who want to keep a wide scope of application for preventive detention, because there is a high prevalence of mental disorders, especially personality disorders, in persons serving such a sentence, although they did not lack criminal capacity (Habermeyer et al. 2010). As this ground for detention does not require a criminal conviction, it gives room for flexibility. The main objection though is that it sets the problem of what to do with dangerous criminals after they have served their sentence on a different track, from criminal justice and prison to psychiatry, and brings back to the front the old and outdated idea that criminality per se is some sort of insanity (Drenkhahn et al. 2012, p. 180 ff.; Merkel 2011, p. 975).

International Perspectives

Most of the issues raised in this research paper from a European perspective are also relevant in criminal justice systems outside of Europe. But when studying and comparing prison systems and their regimes for long prison sentences as well as the effects of imprisonment, it is crucial to remember that the official and unofficial rules might differ considerably between systems and even within one system. The same is true for material conditions and social interactions. In addition, prison systems might change considerably over time.

The human rights issues of life sentences are also discussed internationally and not only with reference to domestic law (van Zyl Smit 2006). With the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court, the question arose, what the heaviest penalty should be that these courts would be allowed to impose (Gumboh 2011). The discussion about life sentences is also relevant with regard to extradition to a country with a different set of rules, i.e., with sanctions for the case at hand that are not acceptable in the requested state (ECtHR, Soering v the United Kingdom, 7 July 1989, application no. 14038/88; R (Wellington) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] UKHL 72, [2009] 1 A.C. 335 with a comment by Milanovic´ 2009).

Future Directions

As one possible reaction to allegedly dangerous offenders, long-term imprisonment is a highly political issue. While national politicians support humanization of imprisonment on the somewhat clandestine European level, they might oppose to the same policies on the national level and call for more and longer imprisonment (Drenkhahn et al. 2012, p. 173). This means that research on the effects of long-term imprisonment is also highly political – not least because it may have results that lawmakers do not want to hear.

The number of long-term prisoners in Europe will most likely keep rising and add to prison overcrowding. This is a threat to all efforts of humanizing imprisonment in general, because it further curtails resources which are quite modest anyway due to the economic crisis. But it will also make life more difficult – or at least not easier – for long-term prisoners: for them, too, resources for modern, reintegrative regimes, treatment programs, meaningful pastimes, and humane living conditions will be scarce; it will be difficult to progress through the prison system and to keep reliable relations with family and friends. As Europe is diverse, this development will not occur in all countries and with the same impact. There is a chance for research in this, because cross-national research may not only describe the interactions of prisoners with a certain setting but also compare a range of settings and thus gain deeper insights into the impact of imprisonment and into its place in a society or a culture. Future research should also be comprehensive in the range of aspects it studies: it is not enough anymore to look at either individual characteristics of prisoners or the institutional environment, both have to be taken into account (Haney 2005, p. 86). In addition, future research needs a variety of methods to not only measure what we think we already know but to also identify new and different questions.

Some of these new questions have already been identified for prison research in general (Liebling and Maruna 2005, p. 12 ff.), and they are also valid for research on long-term imprisonment. The situation of particular groups such as young or female prisoners and vulnerable prisoners needs attention. Special groups in longterm imprisonment are aging and old prisoners – life sentences turn prisons into homes for the elderly. Other current issues are mental and physical health and health care in prison. The mental health status of prisoners and risk and protective factors are particularly important, because mental health may impact on relations to other prisoners and staff, it may influence a prisoner’s willingness and ability to participate in treatment programs, and it might call for specialized care after release. Imprisonment itself is a risk factor for mental health: it can be a relevant trauma resulting in a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; Dudeck et al. 2011). The whole problem of traumatization – not only by imprisonment – and PTSD in prisoners is still under-researched (Liebling and Maruna 2005, p. 15 f.).

The implementation of restorative justice mechanisms for prisoners and the victims of their crimes is another new task for research and practice. In cases of serious crimes that lead to long prison sentences, it may take a lot of time until the parties involved are ready to communicate openly. Therefore, it is worthwhile to introduce restorative justice in prisons to help victims and offenders come to terms with the crime and its consequences (PFI online).


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