chapter  16
21 Pages

Validating offenders’ accounts: learning from offender interviews with bank robbers in Austrian prisons Birgit Zetinigg and Matthias Gaderer

In this chapter we want to assess the possibilities and borders of validating offender interviews. The basis of our reflection upon how data validity can be assured or evaluated is a study about bank robbery in Austria, conducted in 2007. How can a researcher ensure a good quality interview and how can offenders’ accounts be validated? Setting out the boundaries for validity starts when defining the research question and subsequently choosing adequate methods. We reflect upon the influence of the interview setting and the role of impression management. Prison files may help to detect ‘flat lies’ and are a valuable form of validation. Another method could be looking at the crime scenes. In some cases it is possible to compare the findings of the interviews and the stories of the offenders with the actual crime scenes, in this case the victimised bank branches.