Points of Light

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


In their UK study of 113 persistent male offenders interviewed repeatedly from ages 19 to 26, Shapland and Bottoms (2011) found overwhelmingly that the cohort felt shame at being labelled ‘offenders’ and aspired to lead conventional lives centred around respect for the law, good jobs and stable home environments. In Farrall’s (2004: 99 emphasis in original) UK-based study of 199 probationers, around 95 per cent of that cohort ‘said that they wanted to stop offending’. The most common factors, beyond the ‘right mind-set’, associated with probable cessation from crime involved ‘family support’ (including accommodation) and ‘employment’ (Farrall 2004: 158). In Burnett’s (2004: 157) exploration of persistence and desistance among 130 property offenders — mostly aged in their 20s — more than 80 per cent ’said they wanted to go straight’. This required, in the main, sufficient income in order not to have to resort to crime. In her ethnography of 15 young men transitioning from a reform school to the community in Philadelphia, Fader (2013) similarly showed that, far from embracing or permanently desiring the criminal life, each young man wanted ultimately to become a good employee, father, student or the like. They wanted, simply, to become better people. Even Contreras’ (2013: 233) participants — the ‘stickup kids’ — wanted out of the extreme violence that characterized their world. Gus — the central protagonist in that work — ‘spoke’, finally, ‘of pursuing a quiet, humble life’.


Foster Care Carer Family Juvenile Justice System Respite Care 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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