Recurring Breakdown

  • Mark Halsey
  • Simone Deegan
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


The four stories in this chapter revolve around degrees of success and frequent setbacks in the struggle to desist from crime. In contrast to the more or less continuous break with offending evinced by Charlie, Billy and David, the following accounts tell of factors that, for Joel, Paul, Reggie and Ben, persistently and frequently undermine their attempts to walk a different path. Between them, and excluding transfers between facilities, they have accumulated well over 100 admission and release episodes during their juvenile and early adult years. Importantly though, each has experienced significant periods in the community between incarceration events. These ‘interludes’ range from a few months (Joel, Reggie) to more than two years (Paul, Ben) and they involve, by all accounts, periods where offending had ceased (not just periods where each was continuing to offend but avoided arrest). Different factors, at different times, have caused them to ‘relapse’. But what they share, in our view, is the inability to latch onto a hook that might produce a more permanent change. In criminological parlance, these young men are intermittent desisters — people who ‘cyclically or temporarily desist from crime’ (Piquero 2004: 105) only to reoffend in some fashion. Joel, Paul, Reggie and Ben are certainly not alone. In fact, they arguably form part of a much larger group of (ex)prisoners who bounce back and forth between custody and community.


Foster Care Young Offender Conditional Release Custodial Sentence Grievous Bodily Harm 
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Copyright information

© Mark Halsey and Simone Deegan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Halsey
    • 1
  • Simone Deegan
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Crime Policy and ResearchFlinders UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.Flinders UniversityAustralia

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