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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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I am greatly indepted to many people who accompanied me in the last years of life and work, simply too many to list them all. Some persons I would like to mention in particular:

Georg Lind supervised my dissertation in a very helpful way, close to the principles of his own theory. He brought me into contact with a whole world of knowledge shaping my professional standards and marking me deeply as a person. Georg introduced me to Matthias Scharlipp, my KMDD-Co-Teacher, careful friend, and mentor. We have binding experiences in front and behind bars. Of course I have to thank Rolf, Gudrun, Sylvia and many other former collegues supporting my reasearch in prison.

I’m very thankful to the Hans-Böckler-Foundation. Without this scholarship the book would not be ready by now.

I thank my mother Cornelia and my father Klaus, my sister Carrie, my grandparents, my friends. In front of bars I met my wife Julia during my studying years. It began with a pen friendship during my solitary confinement in Switzerland – sheeps and cows in front of my window, inspiring imagination. My landlady Ewa Nowak who carefully read my dissertation and taught me that I stand in the tradition of Gustav Radbruch. Thank you to my collegue Bernd Kietzig and our fruitful perspective-taking talks on psychological methods. I won’t forget our common time in the CIP-Pool and the Chinese restaurant at the University of Constance. Further I would like to...

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