1st Edition

Life Beyond Murder Exploring the identity reconstruction of mandatory lifers after release

By Dan Rusu Copyright 2025
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    Detailing the resettlement narratives of five men who have committed different types of murder (confrontational/revenge, financial gain, random, intimate partner femicide, and family feud), this book counters narratives of neoliberal, ‘responsibilizing’ messages of individualism to investigate what informs their experiences of resettlement.

    Life Beyond Murder: Exploring the Identity Reconstruction of Mandatory Lifers After Release explores the impact of mandatory lifers’ institutionalisation, families, consumer culture, emotions, and supervision, considering how these factors hamper or assist with their transition from the stigmatising identity of being ‘dangerous murderers’. The book’s discussion is guided by the men’s narratives, employing a ‘tug of war’ metaphor to elucidate the ‘push-pull forces’ that influence the men’s efforts to reconstruct their lives in the years following their release.

    To be successful, the book argues, these men have reconciliate a paradoxical situation, and the most skilled mandatory lifers manage to relativise their involvement in murder whilst concomitantly showing remorse. This situation is achieved through a Splitting Narrative that ultimately defends against anxiety, contains internal stigma, and often showcases self-flagellant remorse, as they move towards positive social identities such as philanthropists, family men, wounded healers, and pious members of the church.

    General Editor’s Introduction - Stephen Farrall

    1. Introduction 
    2. Desistance, identity, and mandatory lifers
    3. Barriers to resettlement: exploring new pathways for mandatory lifers
    4. Initial release transition: family formation and employment
    5. Negotiating the prison voice
    6. Pursuing identities of success: Mandatory Lifers and consumer culture
    7. Experiencing Supervision
    8. Living in the Shadow of Guilt: Performing Remorse
    9. Life beyond murder: The Splitting Narrative
    10. Managing shame: Hierarchies of moral abomination
    11. Conclusion



    Dr Dan Gabriel Rusu is a lecturer in criminology at Birmingham City University, a graduate member of the British Psychological Society, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

    In Life Beyond Murder, Dan Gabriel Rusu accompanies a group of convicted murderers as they attempt to rebuild their lives after leaving prison. Searching for new tools that might aid them in the task of reconstruction, they wrestle with guilt and frustration, try to overcome the practical impediments that litter the path towards social reintegration, and look back thoughtfully at everything they’ve left behind. Ambitious, intelligent and full of honesty and pathos, this is an outstanding contribution that deserves to be widely read.
    Professor Simon Winlow

    Dan Gabriel Rusu is the most gifted young Criminologist working in the UK today, and this book shows the academy why.
    Emeritus Professor David Wilson

    Unlocking profound insights into post-homicide life, this groundbreaking book explores subjectivities within a social context, reshaping our understanding of its long-term aftermath. Essential for criminal justice professionals and graduate students, it blends criminology and psychology in a compelling narrative, documenting the complexities of rebuilding after a homicide conviction.
    Professor Elizabeth Yardley