Incarceration as a Turning Point? The Impact of Custody Experiences and Identity Change on Community Reentry
Despite the asserted importance of community reentry as part of the pathway to desistance, there is relatively little empirical research examining the role of custody experiences and a young person’s personal transformation while incarcerated. With the increasing emphasis on service delivery within Canadian facilities, it is possible that some aspects of custody help facilitate desistance, but research has yet to clarify which specific aspects are important.
Guided by rational choice, life course, and cognitive transformation perspectives on desistance, the current study addressed this question by examining the impact of various custody experiences and transformations on short- and longer-term offending outcomes for a sample of incarcerated male and female youth (n = 217). The reliable change index was used to examine changes in self-identity between admission to custody and the weeks prior to release.
Short- versus longer-term offending outcomes were influenced by different custody experiences and the importance of identity change varied across these different outcomes.
Incarceration as a transformative experience during a key transition period in the life course is discussed, with specific attention to rehabilitatinon-focused custody environments.
KeywordsCommunity reentry Desistance Incarceration Juvenile delinquency Longitudinal study Reliable change index
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