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uni'alumni 2016

Alumni Network uni'alumni 2016 The criminologist Bernd Maelicke advocates for prison reform Criminologists work on the assumption that there are turning points in every person’s biography, events that bring about a decisive change in the course of their life. The first turning point in Bernd Maelicke’s life possibly saved him from embarking on a career as a criminal. As a twelve-year-old, he was the youngest member of a gang in Göttingen that commit- ted robberies. Sixty-two years later, Prof. Dr. Bernd Maelicke is certain that he was just a few steps away from winding up in a home for difficult adolescents, where he probably would have been maltreated and broken, as was common at such institutions in the 1950s. His mother saved him just in the nick of time. Five years earlier, in 1948, his mother had given him over to escape agents to get him out of the unsafe post-war Berlin. His escape over the Harz Mountains by night was an existential experience. “The shots, the dogs barking in the dark – it all comes back immediately when I think about it,” says Maelicke. In Göttingen he became a juvenile delinquent. “When I go to a youth correctional facility today and see the 14- to 17-year- olds, I always see myself too.” But his mother, who had also escaped to the West in the meantime, took him with her to Southern Germany. Maelicke went to school in Lörrach. At school he learned his future wife Hannelore. Her father Kurt Eickmeier was one of Germany’s first probation officers. This “charming pioneer” laid the foundation for what was to be- come the main theme of Maelicke’s life. That was the second turning point. A Politically Involved Student Maelicke started studying law, economics, and criminology in Freiburg in 1964. Due to his political involvement, it took him six years to complete his degree. The highlights of his two-year tenure as social affairs advisor in the student parlia- ment AStA and on the managing committee of the former Stu- dentenwerk include the first day nursery for children of students, the establishment of a psychotherapeutic consultation service, and the opening of the student dormitory on Sundgauallee. Maelicke also played an instrumental role in abolishing the academic disciplinary court, which could sentence students to week-long imprisonment in a student detention room on the basis of a statute dating back to the Third Reich. After completing his doctoral degree, Maelicke accepted a position at the Institute for Social Work and Social Pedagogy in Frankfurt am Main, where he became managing director in 1978. From 1990 to 2005, he promoted a comprehensive reform of the state prison system as a high-ranking civil servant at the Ministry of Justice of Schleswig-Holstein. He also ex- panded the state’s probation services and post-probation resocialization projects. Today, the amount of people in Turning Lives Around PORTRAIT Schleswig-Holstein behind bars per 100,000 residents is only half that in the entire Federal Republic of Germany. “I was lucky enough to be able to implement a rational and sustainable criminal justice policy with full support from the state parliament,” he says. The reform measures were based on findings from his research indicating that the violent sub- culture in the prison system makes most of the inmates into repeat offenders. The idea that only a fraction of the inmates in our prisons actually belong there is also the topic of Maelicke’s new book Das Knast-Dilemma. Wegsperren oder resozialisieren? (“The Prison Dilemma: Should Criminals Be Locked Away or Resocialized?”). The book argues for further reforms without resorting to polemical attacks. Unlike in his more than 200 criminological publications, he also describes the personal experiences that led him to become a staunch supporter of a comprehensive, legally regulated resocialization system. The book has reached a large audience. Now it is only the politi- cians the book is actually addressed to whom Maelicke sees as still not doing enough to support sustainable innovations. Martin Jost Bernd Maelicke is the founding director of the German Institute of Social Economics in Kiel. Photo: Deutsches Institut für Sozialwirtschaft 21