how and why people stop offending discovering desistance

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evidence summaries to support,social services in Scotland. April 2012,how and why people,stop offending,discovering desistance. written by,Fergus McNeill,Stephen Farrall,Claire Lightowler. Shadd Maruna,Key points, t Better understandings of how and why people stop offending the desistance. process offer the prospect of developing better criminal justice practices. processes and institutions, t By focusing on positive human change and development research about.
desistance resists the negative labelling of people and the unintended. consequences that such labelling can produce, t Evidence about the process of desistance has led some to identify a range of. principles for criminal justice practice including. t being realistic about the complexity and difficulty of the process. t individualising support for change,t building and sustaining hope. t recognising and developing people s strengths, t respecting and fostering agency or self determination. t working with and through relationships both personal and professional. t developing social as well as human capital,t recognising and celebrating progress. t Desistance is about more than criminal justice Desistance requires. engagement with families communities civil society and the state itself All. of these parties must be involved if rehabilitation in all of its forms judicial. social psychological and moral is to be possible,www iriss org uk.
Introduction Yet there is little agreement on the definition and. measurement of desistance from crime Some see, This Insight provides a brief introduction to the desistance as a permanent cessation of offending. research evidence about the process of desistance over several years whilst others take an arguably. from crime It also explores some of the potential more fluid definition of desistance accepting that. practice and policy implications emerging from this episodes of re offending may occur. evidence It has been prepared as part of a wider,project Discovering Desistance http blogs iriss. org uk discoveringdesistance which aims to share The value of. and extend knowledge about desistance and how understanding desistance. criminal justice supervision can better support, individual efforts to change In this project the forms Given that one of the aims of criminal justice is. of evidence involved include not just academic to reduce crime and given that the vast majority. research as traditionally understood but also of those people who start to offend eventually. the knowledge of desisters of people subject to cease understanding how and why people desist. supervision of the natural supporters of desistance and why it takes some longer than others has. within family and social networks of criminal justice obvious importance. practitioners and managers and of policy makers, One of the few near certainties in criminal justice is. that for most people offending behaviour peaks in, What is desistance their teenage years and then starts to decline This.
from crime is the pattern depicted in what is known as the age. crime curve Studies of desistance illuminate the, Desistance from crime the long term abstinence processes of change associated with the age crime. from criminal behaviour among those for whom curve Kazemian 2007 If we are to understand. offending had become a pattern of behaviour is desistance from crime particularly how and why. something of an enigma Producing or encouraging crime tails off over time we need both testable. desistance is the implicit focus of much criminal theories of this process and empirical evidence. justice policy practice and research it is one of the There is a significant evidence base on the causes. key outcomes that justice interventions are designed of crime but desistance research suggests that the. to achieve and much research treats reducing or factors behind the start of offending behaviour are. ending offending as a key measure of effectiveness often different from those behind its abandonment. how and why people stop offending discovering desistance. Understanding desistance also has more subtle Desistance evidence. impacts on criminal justice debates An overview,t Studying desistance forces us away from static. models of people as offenders criminals or The earliest theoretical and empirical work about. prisoners and encourages an understanding of desistance from crime explored the theory that what. change s in personal identities was happening was a natural or biological process. akin to puberty a process which was then called, t It also brings to our attention the fact that maturational reform Goring 1919 For instance. today s young offender is more likely to become in their pioneering work about criminality across. tomorrow s new father than tomorrow s the life course Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck 1937. habitual criminal argue that Aging is the only factor which emerges. as significant in the reformative process p 105, t As such it implies valuing people for who they Although age remains among the best predictors. are and for what they could become rather than, of desistance this theory has not stood up well to.
judging rejecting or containing them for what,the tests of time More recent evidence suggests. they have done, that these explanations fail to unpack the meaning. of age Sampson and Laub 1992 Age includes a, Finally understanding desistance helps us to range of different components biological changes. understand the processes by which people social transitions and life experiences For age to. cease offending and holds out the possibility that be a meaningful explanation of social behaviour. criminal justice policies can be organised along according to this argument we need to ask which. lines which will aid desistance or at least not features are the ones mediating behaviour in this. hinder it unnecessarily As such insights from the process labeled as aging Rutter 1996 608. experiences of desisting individuals can help to, refine criminal justice efforts to help people stop In the 1980s theorists like Clarke and Cornish. offending see McNeill 2006 45 6 1985 began to argue that desistance also. involved processes of volition or choice Cusson,and Pinsonneault 1986 provided some support.
for this idea with a small qualitative study of, former robbers identifying the following as factors. influencing desistance shock such as being,wounded in a bank raid growing tired of doing. www iriss org uk, time in prison becoming aware of the possibility of Another dimension of desistance concerns the. longer prison terms and a reassessment of what relationship between the individual and society. is important to the individual Similar findings have Sampson and Laub 1993 developed the notion. been reported by other researchers like Leibrich of a bond between an individual and society. 1993 56 7 Shover 1983 213 and Cromwell et al The bond is made up of the extent to which an. 1991 83 which all identified the importance of a individual has emotional attachments to societal. decision to give up crime Whilst such decisions goals is committed to achieving them through. may not be sufficient on their own for desistance legitimate means believes these goals to be. they are likely to be necessary worthy and is able to involve themselves in the. attainment of such goals Sampson and Laub, Moffitt s 1993 ground breaking theoretical work theorise that engagement in offending is more. attempted to combine biological and volitional likely when this bond is weakened or broken. models of criminality into a theory of desistance In addition to this they argue that at various. Moffitt s theory revolved around a taxonomy of points during the life course various formal and. two types of offenders The first type includes informal social institutions help to cement the. those who engage in offending for a brief period bond between the individual and society For. of their life This group usually starts to offend in example for adolescents school the family. early adolescence and cease offending relatively and peer groups influence the nature of the. soon afterwards In contrast to this group of bond between young people and their wider. adolescence limited offenders are life course communities whilst employment marriage and. persistent offenders who start to offend much parenthood operate in a similar way for adults. earlier in their lives and continues well after their Thus avoidance of crime is often the result of. teenage years Reviews of Moffitt s taxonomy relationships formed for reasons other than the. have produced only equivocal support Ezell and control of crime Sampson and Laub argue that. Cohen s study which examined patterns of crime changes in the individual s relationship with these. among persistent juvenile offenders established various institutions are an inevitable feature of. the existence of a group of adolescent limited modern life and as such are key to understanding. offenders Although their study supported Moffitt engagement in offending over the life course. by identifying a group of people whose offending While much continuity in an individual s life can. is confined to their adolescence Ezell and Cohen be observed key events can trigger changes. found six different types of persistent offenders in an individual s bond to society and hence. rather than the one Moffitt predicted 2004 259 pattern of offending Similarly because many. how and why people stop offending discovering desistance. relationships endure over time they can accumulate They also found a way to make sense out of their. resources which can help sustain conventional past lives and even find some redeeming value. goals and conformity eg emotional support in lives that had often been spent in and out of. between marriage partners Laub et al 1998 prisons and jails The desisting ex prisoners he. interviewed often said they wanted to put these, Although Sampson and Laub s work has been experiences to good use by helping others.
the popular in recent decades their theory is usually young people in similar circumstances. not without its critics In their general theory of to their own avoid the mistakes they made. crime Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990 counter that, life events such as marriage child rearing and Finally Giordano and colleagues 2002 999. employment make little difference to criminality 1002 outlined a four part theory of cognitive. since criminality is determined by self control which transformation where they argue that the. itself is determined by early childhood experiences desistance process involves. They argue that whilst criminality remains relatively 1 A general cognitive openness to change. stable over the life course the opportunities 2 Exposure and reaction to hooks. to commit crimes become less frequent Thus for change or turning points. reductions in offending reflect changes in 3 The envisioning of an appealing and. opportunity structures However a recent review conventional replacement self. of the competing theories of desistance Ezell and 4 A transformation in the way the. Cohen 2004 259 found little to support the key actor views deviant behaviour. tenets of Gottfredson and Hirschi s theorising,The first of these involves an awareness and. Recently evidence has also been emerging about willingness on the part of the would be desister. the importance of self identity in the desistance that change is both desirable and needed Indeed. process Maruna 2001 8 identified that to as noted by several others eg Cusson and. desist from crime ex offenders need to develop Pinsonneault 1986 Farrall and Bowling 1999 a. a coherent pro social identity for themselves period of reflection and reassessment of what is. 2001 7 This draws on his finding that individuals important to the individual would appear to be a. who were able to desist from crime had high common feature of the initial process of desistance. levels of self efficacy meaning that they saw Of course this is insufficient in itself Giordano. themselves in control of their futures and had a et al 2002 1001 Farrall 2002 225 what is also. clear sense of purpose and meaning in their lives needed is the exposure to some opportunity to. www iriss org uk, change and the individual spotting this change as terms of their desisting from crime and half of the. offering a potential way out and then acting upon sample reported that they had not got anything. it This leads on to the third stage in this schema out of the sentences Those who felt that they had. the individual s ability to imagine or conceive of got something out of the experience tended to. themselves in a new and conventional role doing emphasise the chance to talk things through with. new things They argue the process is complete someone In short from this early foray probation. when old behaviours are no longer seen as desirable supervision did not appear to be a particularly. or relevant 2002 1002 Giordano and colleagues important factor in moving away from crime. draw on evidence about the relationship between, individual agency and social structures eg Farrall In the UK the first tentative steps towards. and Bowling 1999 to argue that the actor considering the impact of probation supervision. creatively and selectively draws upon elements of on desistance were taken by Rex 1999 Although. the environment in order to affect significant life Rex s study lacked data on whet. 15 April 2012 how and why people stop offending discovering desistance written by Fergus McNeill Stephen Farrall Claire Lightowler Shadd Maruna evidence summaries to support

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