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An interview with Peter Mercer

Peter Mercer © Tatort Zukunft e.V.
Our WeShape team is very happy about the cooperation with Tatort Zukunft e.V., an organization that commits to rehabilitation and crime prevention in Germany.
In this week's Movers & Shapers, Peter Mercer - responsible for project management and public relations - gives insights into their work.

Dear Peter please introduce your organization to our readers in a few sentences.

Tatort Zukunft works to advance more just, humane and effective responses to crime in Germany. We do this in part through educational programs in prisons in which people from inside and outside meet, learn together and from each other, build bridges and establish lasting social relationships.

By creating an interface between the university and the prison, we create a space in which prejudices can be overcome, where new teaching and learning cultures can be tested, and transformative, rehabilitative learning is lived out. Our multifaceted projects are united by the principle that through encounter and education we can change the perspectives of all those involved and create new perspectives for the future.

How did the idea of your project come about, how did it develop?

Founded by a group of PhD candidates studying criminology at Freie Universität Berlin, Tatort Zukunft was established to bring theory into practice and transform the German criminal justice system. Over time, the team grew to include experts in criminology, law, psychology, rehabilitation and social work.

Drawing on our varied expertise, we develop and advocate for innovative responses to the social challenges that lead people into the criminal justice system and implement programs to keep people out of prison. Our latest initiatives include a law clinic providing legal aid to incarcerated people and their families and a fashion design program for incarcerated young people which we adapted for remote learning and will deliver again in collaboration with the Universität der Künste in the coming semester.

What drives you every day, what are you passionate about?

We believe that a society that is committed to human rights has a special responsibility to make prisons as humane as possible and to ask again and again who is punished with imprisonment in a free and democratic society and whether this is the appropriate response to the societal issues that lead people to prison. We can only do this by directly observing conditions in prisons, by asking questions and by entering into an exchange with the people who are impacted by and responsible for this realm, which largely eludes public awareness.

If you had to name in 3 to 4 key words, in which areas you change the world for the better, what would these three words be?

  • Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Democracy

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Most people don’t think of prisons as a place deserving our attention or sympathy, but almost all the individuals sent away to prison will return to our communities. So we have a shared interest in ensuring these institutions treat people humanely and that returning citizens have the tools they need to avoid future contact with the criminal justice system. We welcome you to join us as we envision a safer and more just society.


Thank you for these exciting insights. We are happy that we can support you together with the staff! If you want to know more, you can find detailed information here on the website of Tatort Zukunft.