Through “Second Chance” training courses and other activities we have searched for the reasons of youth crime, looked for ways to help young offenders integrate and tested a variety of methods to facilitate that. Please find below them, accompanied by our tips & advice.


Before starting to work with (ex-) offenders, it is relevant to know what are the reasons behind the crime. In fact, numerous conditions bring young people to crime.

  • A family, especially parents, plays a big role in the development of the child/adolescent. Issues associated with family can be one of the risk factors. These issues can be economic, social, etc. Also, for grandparents or other caregivers, sometimes it is challenging to pay attention and supervise these children so they do not end up in an unfavorable environment. Growing in not very favorable surroundings means that a child’s basic needs (security, love, parenting, education, moral growth, financial security) are not met. Dysfunction is usually caused by various addictions of the parents, emotional or physical absence of them or constant abuse. Such improper surroundings may push a youngster to commit a crime. 

  • Young people may lead down a wrong path to improve their financial conditions. When they experience poor economic conditions, they start engaging in the wrong activities. They may start selling drugs or steal things to improve their economic conditions, and this way, become juvenile delinquents.

  • Often, potential perpetrators are the victims of violence. Individuals may confront violence in a variety of social settings: in family, school, etc. Children who have experienced violence are most likely to have infringed relationships with adults, cannot communicate with their peers, and become “bullies” to prove themselves, sometimes they link their fate to a criminal environment.

  • A human being goes through several stages of social development, among which childhood and adolescence are important. Values, patterns of behavior, and motives are forming in childhood age. At this stage, family and parents play an important role in a person’s life. Further, in adolescence, people try to define their own identity, try to establish themselves, and often the influence of parents is replaced by the influence of peers and friends. Hence, the reason for juvenile delinquency can become imitation.

    They can follow the example of: 1) family members who engage in criminal behavior; 2) peers prone to committing criminal acts; 3) the so-called “authorities” who push children to commit crimes.

  • Poor socio-economic status, indifferent attitude of parents, feelings of inferiority, lack of attention, and many other reasons can lead to various types of psychological issues in children and adolescents. For example, depression, fears, and complexes, excessive aggression, etc. This can provoke the minor to commit a crime

  • It is the parent’s duty to teach moral and ethical values to their children (e.g. the difference between right and wrong behavior). However, parents sometimes neglect their children and pay more focus on working hard to earn money for them or other things. In their absence, children tend to spend time with someone who pays attention to them. This way, they may also fall into wrong hands or get involved in a bad company while seeking attention from someone other than their parents. Lack of social and moral values can lead children to poor interaction with others and make them less confident. They may become selfish and arrogant, not knowing how to respect the laws.

  • Often lack of discourse in the family can lead children to find solace other than homes. When they are not having any communication with their parents or family members at home, they may lose unity, trust, and understanding, which can eventually lower their self-esteem or self-confidence. Once they feel they’re losing their individuality, they tend to do things they shouldn’t do to boost their self-confidence. They blindly follow their peers and adopt their unhealthy lifestyles. They shoplift and consume drugs to look cool in the eyes of their peers.

  • Drugs or alcohol may be exposed to child’s life by addicted parent(s) or followed examples from the criminal world.

    Usually it transforms into: 1) “help” in staying disconnected from one’s emotions, as intoxication leads to temporary forgetting or total “black out”; 2) loss of control over the hidden emotions, which, in turn, show off uncontrolled (e.g. the anger suppressed and hidden appears as strong aggressiveness released in random fights or property destruction). Most of the crimes are committed while intoxicated.

  • It is extremely important to highlight, that dysfunctional family is not a driver to the crime itself. There are many cases known, that the experience of dysfunction in the family motivates people to creating a better life and therefore, they achieve a lot, education, stable job, healthy family, etc. But it is stated, that these good examples usually stems from people who had a chance to see a “better life”. In other words, maybe they had a relative, a teacher, another adult who (un)consciously revealed to them how the different life can be. If one did not have a chance to experience nor sneak peak or witness what is functional family, what are the values of respect, love, he/she will not know such virtues, nor he/she will understand them. Therefore, it will not become her/his life goal.

  • Children living on the streets, due to poor economic and social conditions, can be considered as one of the risk groups, as they are homeless children, who see “hooliganism” as the only way of their existence in most circumstances can be more linked to crime.


Knowing the reasons why youngsters often fall for crime, it is relevant to think of the measures that would help to prevent the crime.

  • It is important to:

    • lead activities to parents to inform them on how to raise healthy children;
    • teach children about the effects of drugs, gangs, sex, and weapons; and other dangerous factors;
    • lead programs to provide youths with the awareness that their actions have consequences.
  • As Second Chance research showed, sometimes lack of possibilities to engage in meaningful leisure activities can lead to involvement in illegal ones. Therefore, it is important to:

    • Have recreation programs (that include sports, dancing, music, drama, art, and other activities) or youth/community centers that would allow youths to connect with other adults and children in the community. 
    • Make these programs accessible and free of charge.
  • Involvement in community groups provides youth with an opportunity to interact in a safe social environment.

  • Lead programs that are designed to teach parenting skills to parents of children ages two to seven who exhibit major behavioral problems.

  • Foster safer, less hostile environment for school students at minimal cost by including anti-bullying measures (e.g. having anonymous bullying questionnaires aimed teachers/school staff to inform about the incidences).

  • Optimally, all juvenile detention facilities should: 

    • catch youths upon their education,
    • provide them with job training, 
    • give them the experience of living in a safe, stable environment, 
    • provide them with assistance to break harmful habits.
    • help with drug rehabilitation assistance, counseling, and educational opportunities.
  • With a variety of non-formal education methods youth, involvement of youngsters with behavioral or criminal problems can help gain different skills, make meaningful connections, feel important and valued.


In existential psychology, the responsibility is referred to when “a person is responsible completely for his/her life: not only for certain actions, but also for inability to take any”. This definition is sometimes forgotten by people who jump on board to facilitate the social inclusion of young (ex-)offenders and yet, that causes a lot of problems.

While in contact with (ex-)convicts, it is possible that one will get attached to some of the people after getting to know them. It is natural and perfectly normal, but sometimes the attachment can get so strong that the person may start strongly caring for the imprisoned youngster and seek to provide any personal help he or she can (e.g. constant emotional support, daily calls, life coaching, etc). Sounds beautiful? Yes, until certain limits are overstepped, and those are: taking full responsibility to (help) change the (ex-)convict. When the interaction between the (ex-)convict and the worker becomes close in terms of frequency, openness and trust, the worker may be led into thinking that he/she has a crucial say in (ex-)convicts life. Soon after, the person may unconsciously take full responsibility for the imprisoned youngster’s actions. 

The responsibility for the other person’s actions practically is impossible, but one might get caught into having such a feeling. It manifests usually as obsessive overthinking or/and willingness to control the person on each step of his/her way. Overthinking can be compared to being in love: imagine, you wake up in the morning thinking what the other person is doing, why (s)he hasn’t contacted you for a while, is (s)he keeping his/her word and acting nicely in the facility, did (s)he get any more fines?”. One youth worker we met during our project claimed that she suddenly came to realization that her personal life was put aside, emotional resources wasted on constant thinking about something that is totally not in her hands. Additionally, when taking the responsibility for someone else’s actions also causes feelings of guilt after they commit the crime again, or break the promises and misbehave within the bars.

What is more, not only the youth worker will have to go through crucial emotional burdens if he/she will take over the responsibility for someone else, but also he/she will most probably push away the (ex-)convict. As it was mentioned above, taking the full responsibility may lead to obsessive and controlling behaviour. Control is negatively perceived by (ex-)offenders and it is as well quickly felt, which, in turn, makes them want to get away.

    • You are thinking about somebody for more than half of your days.
    • You cannot concentrate on your tasks or hobbies as you are constantly planning on HOW you will help a certain person (not necessarily help).
    • You are doing things FOR the person (e.g. looking for job vacancies, educational opportunities, etc).
    • You are overwhelmingly stressed if you get to know that the person misbehaved.
    • You are overwhelmingly stressed if you get to know that the person broke a promise that he/she gave to you.
    • You are overwhelmingly stressed if you get to know that the person lied about him/herself or hid something from you.
    • You feel ashamed or guilty for that certain person’s wrong-doings.
    • The first question that pops into your mind when you get to receive the information about the person’s wrong-doings is “what did I do wrong?” or “what could I have done differently?”.

    If most of the questions applies to you and your interaction with that one certain person – you might be having what is not yours – the responsibility.

  • Before starting your work or volunteering in the field of social inclusion of young (ex-)offenders, draw limits for yourself beforehand that cannot be overstepped by any means. Those limits are as follows:

    you are not responsible for the other person’s decisions

    you can only give your opinion and advice

    you are not responsible for the other person’s future

    you may only make positive influence by your presence and opening up

    you cannot do things for everyone

    you can only give advices and directions

    you cannot tell someone what to do and expect it from him/her

    you can only share what you would do in his/her place

    you should not let the other person in your life and take over (e.g. overthinking)

    you should be fully present during the activities/direct work and disconnect afterwards

    you should not expect gratefulness from the youngsters you are trying to help

    you chose to enroll on working with them, not vice versa

    Eventually, remind yourself, that even though you open up, share your experience, give advice – it does not mean the person is obligated to listen to you or behave as you expect them to behave. Individual, personal changes takes time and you can only witness them or unknowingly accelerate them. The only personal change you can drive yourself – is YOUR change, but not the others.


Types of activities to exercise with young (ex-) offenders.

    • Helps explore a diversity of perspectives and become connected to a topic.
    • Teaches youngsters to share and speak in a group.
    • Develops habits of collaborative learning.

    World Café Activity method was used for discussion on the topics related to the main topic of the training course. The activity took place next to the pool so that discussions would be done in smaller groups in an informal environment. In groups, participants had 7 minutes to talk about each topic and then switch to another. A moderator of each table writes all the ideas and then presents it to others. You can read more about the special method here: Here are the topics participants were discussing about.

    • Some youngsters might dominate in the conversation, while more introverted ones – remain silent.
    • Possibility to lose control over the youngsters, while they might end up in quarrelling.
    • Hold discussions only in small groups.
    • Set ground rules for expected behavior during the discussion. It’s most effective when these are established during a meeting and agreed-upon by the entire group.
    • Have a plan, and be ready to change it. If great discussion and interest flow from a certain question, do not force the group to move on to the next question just for the sake of the plan. Follow the youngsters and dig deeper into the areas or topics with which they connect. 
    • Show respect. Set boundaries for listening to one another. It might be useful to have an item representing which person has the floor. For example, a light ball can be passed as people share (e.g. you are talking when you have it & you are listening to the person when (s)he has it.
    • Give time to answer. Our tendency is to answer the questions we ask. Two seconds of silence can seem like an eternity. A good practice is to ask a question and then (in your mind) count to five. 
    • Have fun: include icebreakers and team builders to include elements of fun.
    • Beneficial for physical and mental health.
    • Universal language between participants. 
    • Through sport activities, one can develop useful values and mindsets (e.g. better understand working in teams, learn how to support each other, respect the rules, etc). 
    • Favorite leisure activity for many young people.
    • Competition. Aside from preparing youngsters for wins and losses in their future, competitive activities help in developing important skills like determination, perseverance and focus. Through competing youth becomes aware that to do well in competition, you need to invest in cooperation, precisely, in team work: take turns, encourage others, develop empathy. However, competing is always about undesirable “zero-sum” game (i.e., in order for you to win, someone else must lose). When placed in competitive settings, youngsters are often left with feelings of disappointment, defeat, guilt.
    • Losing the game. It can be destructive to self-esteem, especially if they feel like they do not measure up or that they are not being recognized for their efforts. For young (ex-)offenders these experiences can be crucial as their emotional state is already quite unstable. In this case, they can start acting out of control, aggressively and/or even start a fight with they opponents or team-mate that, for example, caused the lost score.
    • To make the competing nature of sports more fun and free from fights, skip emphasizing the dimension of win and loss. 
    • Bring the focus on cooperation in teams (talking about it is not enough, rather motivate them to put effort on team-work than the win itself).
    • Allows young (ex-)offenders to understand, accept and express themselves better. 
    • Promotes creativity and individuality, as well as develops problem-solving abilities.
    • Can lower one’s stress levels
    • Defense and/or coping mechanisms. Because of the strong link between artistic activities and emotions, there is a concrete risk for participants to act out their defense and/or coping mechanisms. Expressing our deepest feelings means opening ourselves up. This is often scary for people. For sensitive youngsters with criminal past the fear might reach a higher level that turns on (un)conscious battling mechanisms. The most common acts could be rude humor, isolation and aggressiveness. That can be dangerous, because it would lead to discomfort and judgmental feelings among the participants. 
    • Lack of interest and engagement of people.
    • Carry out these activities after a while (not in the very start), when bonds between people are created. 
    • Lead these activities in small groups (up to 10 people). This will ensure the maintenance of a cozy and safe atmosphere. 
    • Be strict and not allow anyone to observe these activities. Everyone in the room have either to participate fully or leave.
    • Organize several group gatherings within the activity, for example, by giving participants time to analyze other people’s artistic works, creating something small in a group or even organizing a small artistic competition (e.g. talent lab/show).
    • Learning through entertainment is the fastest and the most effective way to learn. Even though most of the activities include winning or losing, having fun on the way usually minimizes the importance of the extremes mentioned. 
    • Entertainment activities, differently than sports, require greater mental engagement (strategizing, socializing, quick thinking, focus, or sharing of different knowledge). Applying or trying out these skills during the activities makes them enjoyable and promising enduring value (e.g. participating in a quiz teaches participants some new facts). Taking this into account, it does not make a big deal whether the team/individual loses or wins.
    • Organizing a fun activity (e.g. board games event) turns you into a mediator between people with different backgrounds, which may lead to (ex-)offenders learning different ways of behaving in contact with others (as well as making friendships).
    • Bringing many different people and putting them in teams for a game might raise some tensions, or invoke coping mechanisms.
    • Making all the participants active during the game.
    • Choose games/activities that are not too difficult to explain and/or understand, because participants can get either bored or/and frustrated if they don’t understand them quickly.
    • Define the exact duration of the activity before carrying it out (if possible), to manage time properly and not make participants bored
    • Think of ways how to manage tensions that may be happening at the same time in several different groups.
    • Assign one/two people in a group to explain & manage the game (e.g. giving out the figures, cards, money; following the time and turns, ensuring the fair game).
    • Think of different kind of prizes: not only for the team that earns the most points, but also others (e.g. a sweet prize for each category) to boost self-esteem and encourage learning.

    Psychological activities have a potential to help (ex-)offenders become aware of their strengths, weaknesses and possessed potential, as well as recognize, understand and express their emotions in socially accepted ways.

    • Not opening up of participants. Talking about feelings and emotions, or sharing personal experiences is not always easy. It takes a lot of time. Some reasons are conscious. To name a few: 1) not feeling completely comfortable to talk while the whole group is listening, 2) perceiving being open as a case of showing off yourself as a weak person (e.g. convicted youngsters normally perceive coming out with most of the vulnerable feelings as weakness, while being weak is a fail, according to them). However, some of the reasons are not conscious. To be more precise, some feelings and emotions may be still unrecognized by participants. For instance, not experiencing love by parents may truly hurt (but it is hard to talk about it if you do not know what is/why is this hurt caused by exactly). As another example, not willing to have a thought on the future career might mean that the person is given up on his life and/or feels like (s)he has no future prospects. Keeping the true feelings inside (consciously or unconsciously), usually turns on the coping and/or defense mechanisms mentioned earlier. Directly targeting and/or focusing on unpleasant emotions may cause these mechanisms to be showed even more extreme.
    • Complexity and difficulty of psychological topics. Many psychological topics (as simple as they might see to us) are extremely difficult to comprehend for youngsters coming from vulnerable backgrounds. For example, even naming a few emotions is usually a great challenge for young (ex-)offenders. Therefore, you risk failing the activity (meaning, not reaching any higher goals) if youngsters will 1) feel lost; 2) reject what is being said; 3) show disrespect by minding their own business and/or openly refusing to listen.
    • Don’t to start with carrying out psychology-related activities in the beginning of your programme with young (ex-)offenders. When the time comes, carry them out in small groups (up to 8 people) to keep the environment cozy and safe. 
    • Don’t allow any observers in the activity (e.g. prison staff, random people, etc.) and participate yourself by sharing your own feelings. This will guarantee the safe place for everyone’s thoughts and strengthen the trust. 
    • Invite a professional to carry out the activity. Meeting different reactions is a challenge for a person that might lead to wrong responses. However, for someone with a psychological background it might be not even a bit surprising. Does not matter what emotion participant might show (e.g. disrespect, anger, aggressiveness, etc.), it must be seen beyond this defense or coping mechanism and make sure the person is accepted with all the feelings. After demonstrating the acceptance, move on with carrying out the activity.
    • Present psychological topics in a simple and understandable way. Avoid buzz-words (e.g. reflection phase, resonating, coaching techniques, meditate, etc.). Instead, adopt their pattern of speaking (e.g. very basic language, slang, etc.); start small (e.g. naming emotions they know or the basic prices for decent living, ways to sustain oneself, etc.); use materials to take the focus off them (e.g. coaching/Dixit cards, music, discussing about live-examples, etc.). 
    • Avoid a lot of theory and find ways to learn or comprehend something through practical activities and games.
    • Learning new skills can help adapt and reintegrate in society faster.
    • Raises participants’ self-confidence because they will learn new things and improve their skills
    • Positive impact on participants’ future career because nowadays website development skills are largely appreciated in the labour market.
    • Participants won’t learn at the same rate and this may be a problem if there are many people taking part to the activity.
    • Such activities can be perceived as boring especially by participants who tend to be more restless and impatient.
    • Have a small number of participants to ensure an adequate level of support for them.
    • Avoid very difficult terms or expressions (if possible), or clearly explain them if it’s not possible to do it.
    • Find a professional to carry out the activity if you do not have enough knowledge yourself.


Working with an (ex-)offender: what are the main steps to take & key advice.

  • It is essential to remember that young offenders should be treated as any other group of young people, who, like ordinary teenagers, face various challenges, have their own opinions and hobbies. Most importantly, our main goal is to foster their reintegration in the society. It means that treating them in a different way can indirectly foster the idea of them being different and, accordingly, strengthen their isolation.

    Also, the approach towards young offenders should be personalized within the group as much as possible, because even though they are/were brought behind the bars for similar choices in the past, it is not a homogenous group. Oppositely, it is a group of individuals who have different backgrounds, experiences and diverse personal stories. Therefore, the ability to inspire individual motivation is another demanding task for youth workers. 

    When it comes to motivation, we recommend focusing on strengths of young offenders rather than on their pathological or risk characteristics. Supporting their strengths and positive habits could help with building the trust between youth workers and young offenders (which is the key action during the activities). It is also important to keep in mind that trust is a mutual process: to gain young (ex-)offender’s trust, we need to trust them too.

  • As reintegration is a long-distance run, the time is definitely needed. It is advisable to define the main goal of each planned activity and to think of the possible follow-up activities. Carrying out an activity once will probably bring only short-term benefits, namely, joy, pleasure and well-spent time. Continuous activities would be more likely to bring long-term individual benefits, including deeper understanding of a topic, developed social skills or bloomed positive attitudes towards oneself, peers and the world.

  • One of the elements that can be very useful is management of potential risks. Before the start of activity:

    • make a brief analysis (the list of possible risks);
    • identify ways to avoid them (if it is not possible to avoid them, think of the ways how to minimize the risks that threaten the success of the activity).
  • Clashes and conflicts may arise for two main reasons:

    Competing: most of the activities are carried out in the competition (e.g. sports, quiz, etc.). Participants are likely to struggle with admitting and/or accepting their loss in such activities positively. Having this in mind, it makes youngsters avoid the loss as much as possible. Therefore, they are likely to use unpleasant means to win, namely, aggressiveness towards an opponent peer/team or cheating. Thus, as the facilitator of the activity, you can think of untraditional means to avoid or minimize such behaviors (e.g. skip using the usual scoreboard; skip defining winners and losers; reward youngsters/teams for playing fairly, etc.). In this way, the atmosphere of harsh competition will be softened as neither winning, nor losing would be stressed during the whole activity.

    Defense (unconsciously) and/or coping (consciously) mechanisms commonly used by youngsters: some activities require young (ex-)offenders to open up, and/or can trigger their hidden experiences. That, accordingly, might make them feel uncomfortable. After appearance of painful or difficult emotions, they may isolate themselves, act aggressively and/or use rude humor. When youngster(s) start using one or several coping or defense mechanisms, a good ideas for facilitator may include: 1) accepting their behavior and making sure it is okay if they feel anger or other negative emotions; 2) if the mechanisms used by youngster(s) offends others in the activity, having a brief one-to-one conversation might help. We highly recommend trying not take anything personally, as well as remaining calm if anyone during the activity starts openly use their defense and/or coping mechanisms. Reacting negatively can make things worse and harm those already sensitive young people.


Starting the activity with young (ex-)offenders: ice-breaker is always a good idea!

To overcome the initial tension, it is crucial to start with ice-breakers and activities in smaller groups. This should make it easier for shy participants to introduce themselves, get to know others and gain confidence to express their opinions and/or emotions. We highly recommend starting with activities that do not require opening up on a higher level (e.g. group discussions) and only later move on with activities that require more reflection and opening up in a team (e.g. workshop about different emotions).

  • Make a grid on a piece of cardstock with some categories written in each square: “Someone who was born in winter” or “Someone who likes dancing,” or “Someone who has a brother.” Duplicate for everyone in your group and hand out pencils. Encourage the group to mix, talk to everyone to try and complete their card. If one of the items listed on the bingo card relates to the person they are talking with, have them sign their name in that box. The person, who manages to fill in all the boxes first, is the winner.

  • A large blanket is held up between two groups, and one player from each team stands behind the blanket. For each turn, each team chooses a volunteer to stand (or sit) behind the blanket. Count “1, 2, 3? and drop the blanket. The goal of the game is to be the first to identify the other person behind the blanket.

  • Ask everyone to stand and arrange the group into a circle. Ask one person to leave the room for a minute. This person will be the guesser for the round. While (s)he is gone, the group decides who will be the “leader.” This person will be the one who sets the movements for that round. When this person is chosen, invite the guesser to come back. The guesser stands in the very center of the circle. When the round begins, everyone starts swinging their arms up and down. The leader will eventually begin to do other movements (clapping, jumping up and down, etc.), and everyone else mimics the leader’s actions, without being too obvious to reveal who the leader is. 

  • Divide into groups of 6-10 people. Each group forms a tight circle, standing and facing each other. Everyone extends their hands into the circle and by intermingling their arms, grasps hands with other members of the group. Be sure that the two hands they are holding do not belong to the same person. The groups’ goal: untie the knot, which results in members of the group having to climb over, under, or through each other’s arms to untie the knot of bodies.


As a tool to analyze juvenile delinquency.

Watching movies can be a way to get to know crime from different perspectives. Thematic movies can be invoked both ways:

  1. as a tool for a youth worker to watch & analyse the shown context personally; 
  2. as a tool to watch with the group of youth you work with & discuss with them.

Below we provide the list of movies (that are relevant to the topic) and questions to discuss with the group (that have been tested in the Second Chance project).

“The Stanford Prison Experiment” (2015)

In 1971, twenty-four male students were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

    • If you were the experimenter in charge, would you have done this study? Would you have terminated it earlier?
    • If you were a guard, what type of guard would you have become? How sure are you?
    • If you were a prisoner, would you have been able to endure the experience? What would you have done differently than those subjects did? If you were imprisoned in a “real” prison for five years or more, could you take it?
    • Do you think that kids from an urban working class environment would have broken down emotionally in the same way as did our middle-class prisoners? Why? What about women?
    • Knowing what this research says about the power of prison situations to have a corrosive effect on human nature, what recommendations would you make about changing the correctional system in your country?

“Corpus Christi” (2019)

“Corpus Christi” is the story of a 20-year-old Daniel who experiences a spiritual transformation in a Youth Detention Center. The crime he commits prevents him from applying to the seminary and after his release on parole he is sent to work at a carpenter’s workshop. However Daniel has no intention of giving up his dream and dressed as a priest he decides to – minister a small-town parish.

    • What feelings of Daniel did you recognize throughout the movie? What do you think he will do next?
    • What are the main challenges an ex-convict faces when trying to achieve his dreams?
    • What could we do (personally, or on community level) to help an ex-convict reintegrate back to life?


“Exemplary Behaviour” (2019)

The documentary explores the understanding of exemplary behaviour in lifers and their personal efforts to return to society. Some inmates are changing, but is the society’s attitude towards them changing too? Main goals – to show how murderers are trying to change and serve our society – to raise tolerance for the outcasts of our society (for the “other”) – to stimulate viewers’ imagination by representing how the impossible can become possible and how a murderer is able to change himself.

    • What, in your opinion, are the main stimulus for (ex-)offenders to change?
    • Is the society ready to accept the ex-offenders? Are the convicts ready to return to society?
    • When is the punishment being forgotten? Can it be forgotten?


“Papillon” (2017)

Based on the international best-selling autobiographic books “Papillon” and “Banco”, PAPILLON follows the epic story of Henri “Papillon” Charrière, a safecracker from the Parisian underworld who is framed for murder and condemned to life in the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island. Determined to regain his freedom, Papillon forms an unlikely relationship with fellow inmate and quirky convicted counterfeiter Louis Dega, in an attempt to escape from the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island.

    • How does Papillion come to be sentenced to prison?
    • How the prisoners are treated in Papillon? Is it ever justified to treat human beings that way?
    • How does the violence in this movie compare to what you’ve seen in other films? How does its realistic nature affect its impact?
    • What is it that makes him eventually come to decide that he does not want to escape again?


“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)

“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free” is the tagline of this brilliant movie. Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. The film portrays the people’s unique way of dealing with his new, torturous life.

    • Why is Andy sent to Shawshank? What personality traits does Andy have that contribute to his indictment? How would you have responded differently to this situation?
    • What does Andy want from Red? Why do you think Red agrees to help Andy? What are some other ways Red helps Andy? How does Andy help Red? Do you think their relationship is purely transactional?
    • What lesson does Andy teach his friends after getting released from solitary?
    • Explain the reasons why Brooks’ found life on the outside?
    • Why did Red change his speech to the parole committee the last time? Do you think he would have been freed if he hadn’t?



As a tool to analyze juvenile delinquency.

Podcasts can be another way to deepen the knowledge about (juvenile) delinquency or hear about the issue directly from (ex-)criminals, experts, prison staff, social workers, or even victims. Find the list of our recommended podcasts below.

Behind the Bars

An educational podcast of “Second Chance” project. It is dedicated to understand the criminal, act of crime and the correctional system as such. Everyone is invited to understand mentioned and often avoided terms by going through three different phases: life before the crime; life in prison and life once released. Each phase contains unheard stories and has unseen angles that will be discussed and presented in each episode by interviews both with convicts and experts of the field (e.g. scientists, psychologists, writers, law officers, activists, etc.). This podcast is meant for youth workers and everyone who wants to understand the field better as well as for youth & social workers.


All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, On the Media, Death, Sex & Money, Snap Judgment, Nancy and many others. © WNYC Studios.


Crimeversation is a podcast hosted by two doctoral students that discusses true crime, criminological and criminal justice issues, and promotes research. Among the topics discussed – biosocial criminology, race & poverty in juvenile justice, individual backgrounds and personal stories of criminals.

Unprisoned: Stories From The System

Unprisoned shares stories to incite conversation about the ways mass incarceration affects families, communities and notions of justice. Is our criminal justice system making us safer? How are we all passively or actively supporting the current system? What do we want for our future? The podcast focuses in particular on how children (often from a very young age) are caught in the system of correctional control with little hope of ever escaping it, a cultural contradiction that at once elevates youth as exceptional and vulnerable while simultaneously criminalizing them at an alarming rate.

Juvenile Justice: Past, Present and Future

We discuss traditional detention center environments, newer and more progressive models, and the often surprising costs–and outcomes–of each. What are the differences between adult and youth incarceration models? What does bias look like in the world of juvenile justice? How do we reduce recidivism rates and what are some alternatives to youth incarceration? We also learn about the work of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law and the Juvenile Justice Clinic at the University of Maine School of Law.

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