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Morality Behind Bars

An Intervention Study on Fostering Moral Competence of Prisoners as a New Approach to Social Rehabilitation

Kay Hemmerling

Prisoners prefer moral ideals like justice and responsibility just as much as non-prisoners. However, they lack moral competence, which Georg Lind has defined as the ability to solve conflicts through deliberation and communication rather than through violence, deceit and power. The data of this experimentally designed intervention study show that imprisonment mostly makes things worse. It leads to a regression of moral competence. Further, these data show that – with appropriate training methods like the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion (KMDD) – moral competence can be effectively and sustainably fostered. The KMDD lets participants learn to solve stressful morally dilemmatic moments with mutual respect, thinking and discussion – the keys to a non-delinquent life in society.

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Table 1: Daily Routine of a Prisoner ................................................................... 39 Table 2: Opportunities for Moral Learning in Pedagogic Approaches ............... 44 Table 3: Comparison between Blatt-Kohlberg-Method and KMDD ................. 48 Table 4: Phases of Support and Challenge in the KMDD .................................. 49 Table 5: Overview of Hypotheses ....................................................................... 72 Table 6: Description of Prison Conditions .......................................................... 74 Table 7: Overview on Cross-Sections (targeted and realized Sample)............... 75 Table 8: Items for Responsibility-Taking and Guided Reflection in the study .. 76 Table 9: Numbers of Participant (Longitudinal) ................................................. 77 Table 10: Three-factorial Experimental Design of the MCT .............................. 79 Table 11: KMDD-Interventions: Overview on used Dilemmas ......................... 86 Table 12: Trainings and Therapies of the Cross-Sections .................................. 86 Table 13: Rate of Recirculation and Description of Data Collection ................. 88 Table 14: Rate of Recirculation for Control-1 .................................................... 89 Table 15: C-Score and Opinion Agreement (Cross-Sections) .......................... 105 Table 16: Absolute Effect Size of Treatment (C-Score) ................................... 110 Table 17: Relative effect size of the intervention (polynomial contrasts) ........ 111 Table 18: Overview of Results .......................................................................... 116 Table 19: Description of Cross-Sections ........................................................... 141 Table 20: Description of Longitudinal Section ................................................. 142 Table 21: Trainings and Therapies of the Longitudinal Groups ....................... 143

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