1st Edition

Desistance Transitions and the Impact of Probation

By Sam King Copyright 2014
    240 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    240 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Moving away from criminal behaviour can be fraught with difficulties. Often it can involve leaving behind old habits, customs, and even friends, while at the same time adopting a new way of life. How do individuals go about making a decision to give up crime? How do they plan to sustain this decision? And in what ways does probation help? This book explores these questions.

    Based on in-depth interviews with a group of men under probation supervision, Sam King investigates the factors associated with making a decision to desist from crime. The book examines strategies for desistance, and explores the factors that individuals consider when they are thinking about how they will desist. In doing so, the book sheds new light on existing understandings of desistance from crime and helps to develop our understandings of the role that individuals play in constructing their own desistance journeys. This book also highlights the role of probation in this process, offering a timely and critical review of the nature of probation under the New Labour government in the UK between 1997-2010.

    The findings indicate that we should allow Probation Officers greater autonomy and discretion within their roles, and that we should free them from the bureaucracy of risk assessment and targets. Moreover, the book warns against the potential fragmentation of community supervision. As such, the book will be of interest to criminology students, researchers, academics, policymakers and practitioners, particularly those who work with ex-offenders in the community.

    1. Introduction  2. Reoffending and the response from probation  3. Persistence, desistance and the transitional phase  4. Agency, narratives and social contexts  5. Obtaining accounts of probation  6. First steps - the transition to desistance  7. Strategies for desistance  8. Enabling or constraining desistance?  9. Active agents and social contexts 10. Concluding thoughts.


    Sam King is at Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Leicester. Previous to this appointement, he taught at the University of Birmingham and the University of Derby. His main research interests are desistance from crime, community supervision of offenders and experiences of community supervision. He has published in several journals, including: Punishment and Society, Criminology and Criminal Justice and Probation Journal.

    "It's a cliché to describe books as 'timely'. In this case, however, it could not be more true. Sam King's theoretically informed and meticulously researched analysis of whether and how probation supervision can support the early stages of desistance from crime will be a vitally important resource, not just for researchers and policymakers, but also for those charged with commissioning and providing probation services - not just in the strange new landscape of criminal justice in England and Wales, but also much further afield."

    Fergus McNeill, Professor of Criminology & Social Work, University of Glasgow.

    "Sam King makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the attitudes and opportunities that lead offenders to stop offending. His reliable and scholarly summary of current research is enlivened with many vivid quotations from his own interviews with people struggling to get out – and stay out - of crime. This engaging and readable book offers many perceptive insights into the contribution that probation officers could make to support the process of change." 

    Professor Rob Canton, De Montfort University.

    "Sam King’s research monograph is aptly situated in Routledge’s formidable collection of books in their International Series on Desistance and Rehabilitation. King’s research, based on in-depth interviews with 20 men on probation and their supervising officers, reveals the processes which led towards a decision to attempt to desist; the strategies that individuals considered; the obstacles that individuals believed they would encounter and how they intended to overcome these and the role of human agency in this phase… Desistance Transitions and the Impact of Probation makes an important contribution"

    Beth Weaver, University of Strathclyde