How Offenders Transform Their Lives  book cover
1st Edition

How Offenders Transform Their Lives

ISBN 9781843925088
Published February 23, 2011 by Willan
288 Pages

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Book Description

At a time when the scale of imprisonment in the United States has reached a historic high, researchers estimate that more than 600,000 individuals a year are released from prison to return to their home communities. These individuals have serious needs, such as finding employment and housing, reuniting with family members, and obtaining healthcare and treatment for alcohol and substance abuse problems. While research in this area has stressed these aspects of the transition from prison, a less explored area of research considers the role of internal identity shifts from that of an offender to one of citizen, and how this creates the conditions for desistance from criminal behavior both within the confines of a correctional facility and in the reentry process.

This book presents a series of studies (mostly qualitative) that investigate individual identity transformation from offender status to pro-social, non-offending roles. Moreover, the work in this volume highlights the perspectives of the men and women who are current or formerly incarcerated people. Each piece provides an empirical analysis of the interaction between current or former prisoners and innovative pro-social programs and networks, which are grounded in the most current theoretical work about individual transformation and change.

This book will be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and lecturers in all fields within the social sciences, but especially criminology and criminal justice and sociology and social work/welfare.

Table of Contents

1. Identity Transformation and Offender Change  2. Moments of Transformation: Formerly Incarcerated Individuals' Narratives of Change  3. Looking-glass Identity Transformation: Pygmalion and Golem in the Rehabilitation Process  4. Former Prisoners, Their Family Members, and the Transformative Potential of Support  5. 'I Got A Quick Tongue': Negotiating Ex-Convict Identity in Mixed Company  6. Thinking Inside the Box: Prisoner Education, Learning Identities, and the Possibilities for Change  7. Accounts of Change and Resistance Among Women Prisoners  8. Parole Supervision, Change in the Self, and Desistance from Substance Use and Crime  9. Identity Change Through the Transformation Model of L.I.F.E.R.S., Inc.  10. Formerly Incarcerated Persons' Use of Advocacy/Activism as a Coping Orientation in the Reintegration Process  11. Lessons Learned About Offender Change: Implications for Criminal Justice Policy

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Bonita Veysey, Johnna Christian, and Damian J. Martinez are all based at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University.


'This collection of 11 articles reflects the enduring significance of symbolic interactionism as a source of insights worth putting into practice with incarcerated populations and those facing the challenges of reentry to society. Each contribution addresses the pressing concern for evidence-based approaches that can convincingly respond to the "what works?" question, which continues to dominate criminal justice debates. Some are more convincing than others are, but the rich detail of mostly qualitative data about offenders' navigation away from stigmatized identities is thought provoking. The applications of theory are appropriate and affecting, achieving an intelligent prescription for more attention to the dynamics of relationship and interpersonal communication in both prison and community-based programs. Understandably, extensive concerns with addiction recovery efforts are explored as essential to the prospects for desistence from crime. The authors share compelling illustrations of how group interactions influence individual narratives and self-transformation. Concern with the currencies of socially constructed meaning is connected to more distant outcomes of lifestyle change more by persuasion than by available longitudinal data, leaving the answer to "what works?" still a work in progress. Nevertheless, their logic bears broad consideration by professionals in corrections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.'R. Zingraff, James Madison University in Choice