Points of Unrest

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


One of the fundamental research tasks is to answer the ‘so what?’ question. To wit, why do the stories told above matter and what ‘larger’ meaning or lessons might be taken from them? It is difficult, in this context, to avoid grappling with Moffitt’s (1993) claim that all anti-social (criminal) behaviour falls into one of two categories: ‘adolescence- limited’ or ‘life-course persistent’. With over 6000 citations, her paper developing that taxonomy must rate as one of the most frequently read articles in criminology and related fields over the past two decades. Prior to discussing some of the key themes emerging from the young men’s stories, we feel compelled to understand whether and where they fit into this ‘developmental dyad’. With the possible exception of Sean, who we lost touch with some time ago, none could rightly be described as adolescence-limited offenders. All continued to offend (in relatively serious fashion) beyond their teenage years. Moffitt posits that adolescence-limited offenders cease offending in or about their teenage years, tend to commence offending later than life-course-persistent offenders, are free from any ‘personality disorders and cognitive deficits’, and have by their mid-teens (generally the onset of their offending) internalized a sufficient quantum of ‘good’ behavioural scripts to which they can return/inhabit when the stakes get too high. As she (1993: 690) writes:

[W]ithout a lifelong history of antisocial behaviour, the forces of cumulative continuity have had fewer years in which to gather the momentum of a downhill snowball. Before taking up delinquency, adolescence-limited offenders had ample years to develop an accomplished repertoire of prosocial behaviours and basic academic skills. These social skills and academic achievements make then eligible for postsecondary education, good marriages, and desirable jobs.


Antisocial Behaviour Prosocial Behaviour Young Offender Underground Economy Parental Incarceration 
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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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