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Internal Narrative of Desistance
British Journal of Criminology Volume:47 Issue:3 Dated:May 2007 Pages:390 to 404
Drawing on a critical realist perspective, this article analyzes the way in which an internal narrative of crime desistance transforms an offender’s identity into one of an ideal self. The main argument is that offenders are able to desist from future crimes by engaging in an internal narrative that recasts their criminal identity into an identity that involves an ideal future self. In making the argument, the author posits that this disjuncture or break away from the offending identity is most often achieved by seeing the self through the eyes of others, which raises questions about their past and present choices. The author contends that the traits of emotional apathy and responsiveness might help in offenders’ self-appraisals and in their subsequent desistance from crime. The “terms of the conversation” with the self that eventually lead to desistance from crime and a new identity is described as occurring through three distinct phases: (1) discernment, which reviews possible choices; (2) deliberation, which reviews the pros and cons of potential courses of action; and (3) dedication, which eschews past commitments to crime and allows new prosocial commitments to emerge. This three-fold internal process allows the offender to distance themselves from the past and allow a new identity to emerge. However, the author is quick to point out that this internal dialog is not simply a causal reconstruction of past events, but rather involves a moral assessment of past actions versus hopes for the future. In order for this internal narrative to be realized and successful, the power of personal agency and self-reflection must be harnessed by the offender. It is also suggested that the testimony of others can be the impetus to shaking off the criminal identity of the past and committing to a future ideal identity. References
Aspirations of Restorative Justice Proponents and Experiences of Participants in Family Group Conferences
British Journal of Criminology Volume:47 Issue:3 Dated:May 2007 Pages:491 to 509
This study compared the aspirations of restorative justice advocates and the practical realities of restorative justice in action through an examination of a family group conferencing project in the United Kingdom. Results revealed that the majority of participants did not view conferences as punishments, but rather as a strategy aimed at offender rehabilitation. Interview data indicated that while offenders viewed the conferencing process as a painful experience, the majority of offenders did not view the conference as punishment. Victims displayed understanding, kindness, and forgiveness toward offenders during the conferences. The author speculates that the hospitable, informal, and friendly atmosphere of the conference may be a contributing factor to why offenders do not view conferences as punishment. The finding that offenders do not view conferencing as punishment lends support to proponents who view the restorative justice paradigm as a step away from the punishment paradigm currently ruling the criminal justice system. On the other hand, it detracts from arguments that restorative justice initiatives can serve as an alternative punishment to other traditional forms of punishment, such as community service or jail. Other findings throw doubt on the argument that the needs of the victim receive primary importance in the restorative justice process. Indeed, in some cases, the conferencing went on in the absence of the victim yet never went forward without the offender. Data were drawn from a study carried out in a family group conferencing project in England that dealt with juvenile offenders. Interviews were conducted with 47 participants in the family group conferences and the 6 professionals involved in the conferencing process or its development. Of the 47 participants interviewed, 13 were offenders, 17 were victims, 13 were offender supporters, and 4 were victim supporters. Offenses included assault, robbery, burglary, vehicle theft, theft and handling of stolen goods, and criminal damage. In addition to semistructured interviews, data also included nonparticipant observation of the family group conferencing process and documentary analysis. References