IndeSent: Indeterminate sentencing and imprisonment - An interdisciplinary study of the experiences of court processes and prison practices

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Julie Laursen


University of Copenhagen


DKK 1,295,311




Reintegration Fellowships


In Denmark, indeterminate sentences are given to people who commit serious offences such as murder, aggravated violence, sexual offenses, arson, and robbery and who are deemed likely to reoffend due to previous offending and their mental state. They are held in prison indeterminately in order to protect the public and enable rehabilitation. The project’s overall aim is to contribute new insights into the nature and experience of indeterminacy as well as the moral meanings communicated to indeterminately sentenced men and women.


While there is a rich literature on indeterminate imprisonment in the Anglophone countries, the last explorative study of indeterminate imprisonment in the Nordic countries was conducted over 50 years ago,hence our understanding of indeterminacy remains limited. IndeSent examines the experiences of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences in Denmark, held in the ‘deepest’ and ‘tightest’ part of an otherwise ‘exceptionally humane’ prison system.


Usually, there is a sharp distinction between the allocation and delivery of punishment: the first happens in courts and the second in penal institutions. Using ethnographic research methods, that is participant observation, in-depth interviews and a Dialogue Group, IndeSent will address this gap in the scholarship by focusing on the experiences of the indeterminately sentenced in the two arenas of punishment.

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