• Jarl Verup Simonsen
How is the crime explained when the police investigation is completed and the verdict is handed down? When the individual is convicted and serving his sentence, it is assumed that something else is at stake, other than being found guilty or innocent. This master thesis intends to characterize the trends in the crime explanations of imprisoned sexual offenders in the Danish Prison and Probation Services. The study will be based on the following research question:

What themes and trends can be identified in crime explanations of inmates convicted of a sexual offence?

The thesis is a document analysis of the inmate case file. It examines the nature of the explanations of crime among inmates, who serve a prison sentence for sexual offences. The empirical basis consists of 211 case files, one for each inmate. The approach is Grounded Theory and is empirically driven, which is why there is used an open coding on the basis of a quantitative and qualitative content analysis. This will result in descriptive recordings and theoretical analyzes of the empirical data.

Before examining the explanations of crime in the case files, an analysis of the status of the documents is necessary. The case files are understood as a organizational document containing institutionally negotiated crime declaration. These empirical grounds were interpreted with power and stigma perspectives. To answer the research question, Stigmatization theory, Neutralization theory and Desistance theory were applied the overall explanatory types and themes, which was established as a result of the framework in the computerbased data analysis program Nvivo.

The thesis contributes with a nuanced mapping and typology of the crime explanations of sexual offenders in the case files. It is clear that the case file, which serves as action plan, is a complex tool. It is the declared guiding tool through prison and thereby seeks to accommodate many interests. The motivation of sexual offences is complex and varying, but can be arranged in four general explanatory types; structurally, situational socially and individually motivated. In addition, the primary types of explanation also contain the tale of the victim and lack of explanation. Within these types of explanations, there are thematic trends. The explanations of crime in the case files can theoretically be interpreted through stigmatization processes, perspectives on power, neutralization and desistance theory.

An important recognition is that the explanations of crime are different, varying and consists of several different types of explanation and, to some extent overlap. In the framework of the thesis, explanations are differentiated between inmates who refuse to have committed the crime and those who confess. The thesis finds that 43 % of the inmates in this study deny ever committing the crime. The explanations are generally bipartite, with an explanation and the following reason as to why it is so. There is a general tendency that inmates explain being aware of what is right and wrong, both among confessors and refusers. Another tendency among explanations that deny the crime, is focus on the victim and their credibility.

In the thesis, socially and situational motivated types of explanation are predominantly used to explain crime. The socially motivation explanations are linked to a broken social relationship or lack of relationship and are therefore characterized by disappointment, loneliness, boredom and that the criminal behavior evolved over time. The inmates explain that they sought opportunities for desired social relationships, and did not consciously organize their lives in order to seek out or groom potential victims.

Structurally motivated explanations allocate responsibility to structural conditions in society. The empirical analysis shows that structural crime explanations to sexual offending are very rarely legitimized in case files. Individually motivated explanations account for the largest percentage of confessors. However, the explanations tend to reduce personal responsibility through the recognition and acceptance of the stigma as sexually deviant. It can be understood as the actual recognition and acceptance allocate the responsibility for change and altering of the deviation, thus also future criminal behavior, to the treatment itself and the rehabilitation efforts of the prison services.

Finally, a discussion of to which extent confession or denial is appropriate or not to desist from further criminal behavior, where the fabrication of oneself can be understood as a way of dealing with the stigma that follows the inmate convicted of sexual offences.
Publication date4 Jun 2020
Number of pages61
ID: 333594595