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Criminologen plaatsen vraagtekens bij beroemde levenslooptheorie

How do perpetrators of notorious crimes integrate in society after their imprisonment? Marieke Liem and Daan Weggemans investigated this in in-depth interviews with ten Dutch convicts for murder, paedophilia and terrorism.


The paper questions the life-course theory that is well-known among criminologists,  as Liem and Weggemans state in the Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology. According to that theory, adults are often kept away from crime after their adolescence, as in the course of their life they have gained all kinds of social commitments. Think of a permanent job, a relationship or children.

Not over the line again

The explorative research shows that all interviewed persons had a lot of difficulty in getting their lives back on track after the imprisonment: they less often had children, partners, a job or a house. Nevertheless, the ten former prisoners did not go over the line again. They did not commit new crimes after their release. Liem and Weggemans state: ‘These results emphasize the importance of including the course of time, age, the wider social context of criminals and their (sometimes intensive) supervision, for a better understanding of why they do not get into trouble again.

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