The importance of space, place and everyday life for the reintegration of prisoners and criminal desistance.

Flynn, N. (2007) The importance of space, place and everyday life for the reintegration of prisoners and criminal desistance. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of the impact of place on the choices and decisions of released prisoners to desist from offending. It takes as its starting point recent research evidence that large numbers of prisoners in the US and UK are drawn from specific urban neighbourhoods to which they return after release only to reoffend and be re-imprisoned. Rather than assume there is a direct equivalence between criminal behaviour and place, it investigates how place differences interact with individual differences to determine the pathways taken by prisoners over the life course. Thus, it assesses how both structural and agentic factors affect reoffending and/or criminal desistance in the places prisoners grow up, in prison, and the places to which they return after prison. As well as criminological literature, the study draws on a wide range of social scientific materials on the importance of space, place and everyday life. Most prominently, it refers to geographical, sociological and psychological analyses which have explored the reciprocal nature of people/place relationships. In particular, the perspective within human geography that `just as people construct places, places construct people' has informed the research design adopted for the study. This incorporates both a quantitative mapping exercise to show the geographical distribution of prisoners from Greater London and a qualitative account of the meanings, emotions and attitudes of a sample of prisoners towards the places they inhabit, and the influence these have on reoffending and/or criminal desistance. The main conclusions of the thesis are that most prisoners from Greater London are drawn from wards which are socially deprived. During childhood, a shared experience of specific places shapes criminal behaviour which is interpersonal and fundamentally experiential in nature. Then, having enjoyed the thrill and excitement of `crime as play', persistent offenders grow up to embrace `crime as a way of life'. Many prisoners profess an inclination to give up crime, but the different ways they respond to prison does not encourage them to `go straight'. Although the process of criminal desistance is not dependent on moving away from local criminogenic environments, it may be constrained by social characteristics and social relations in the places most prisoners return to after release. The thesis ends by discussing the implications of this life course perspective for prisoner reintegration policy.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas:Theses
School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
ID Code:6879
Deposited On:12 Jan 2011 12:04
Last Modified:20 Jul 2014 03:00

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