Home > ‘Learning the basics of how to live’: ex-prisoners’ accounts of doing desistance.

Seaman, Vicky and Lynch, Orla (2016) ‘Learning the basics of how to live’: ex-prisoners’ accounts of doing desistance. Irish Probation Journal, 13, pp. 65-83.

External website: http://www.probation.ie/EN/PB/0/E45AE27C2F6AFA8F80...

In recent years desistance has come to be understood as a life-course process, and has in some instances been compared to the journey out of addiction: a process of recovery. Importantly, desistance is not conceived of as a definitive point in time whereby an offender becomes a non-offender, but as a series of decisions and associated actions that increasingly move a person further away from a life of crime, with relapses common along the way. This paper is concerned with the idea of doing desistance; not in terms of the delineation of the process, but in the experience of those voluntarily embarking on a desistance journey. Through the analysis of the accounts of ex-prisoners engaged with the Cork Alliance Centre (CAC), the paper explores the personal and social experiences of clients as they reflect on their engagement with CAC. Through a thematic analysis of interview data, key higher order themes emerged: shame, the notion of a new life, relationship management, identity, mental health, hope, trust and safety. Results of this analysis reveal that intangible issues dominate ex-prisoners’ understanding of their desistance journey.

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