Major Derailment

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


In this chapter, we focus on the stories of Lee and Matt. Between them they have been released from serving time in juvenile and adult facilities on over 40 occasions and collectively have been incarcerated for more than 17 years. Unlike the young men mentioned in previous chapters, Lee and Matt have engaged in repeat serious criminal activity which goes well beyond motor vehicle theft, thieving from houses and businesses, assault or the like. Armed robbery, major stakes in the heroin trade, facing a charge of attempted murder — to give several examples — put these stories on another level. Still, both young men have told for several years how they want out of the crime and incarceration game. Both, as shall become clear, had very different starts to life, and both were drawn into offending through very different avenues. To our minds, though, what they share is an ongoing struggle between the seductive elements of crime (Katz 1988) as against its destructive power — the way it curtails their futures, hurts their families, and victimizes innocent bystanders. Both know the pain crime causes, but this has not prevented them from transitioning from ’small’-time offending to ‘big’ crime (Haigh 2009: 312). By any measure, desistance has been a rare commodity in their lives. Their attempts to head down a different path have generally come to naught. Again, different factors have derailed such attempts. One possible way of framing their trajectories would be to suggest they are in the midst of ‘ramping up’ before ’settling down’ — that each is engaged in a criminal purge prior to really committing to desistance. Whether this is in fact so, remains an open question.


Organize Crime Gunshot Wound Borderline Personality Disorder Violent Offender Young Offender 
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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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