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The Ambiguities of Desistance: Ex-offenders, Higher Education and the Desistance Journey

David Honeywell
University of Manchester, UK

Product Details
16 Mar 2021
Emerald Publishing Limited
112 pages - 152 x 229mm
Emerald Points
This book explores the ongoing and individual desistance journeys of ex-offenders during re-integration into society, introducing nuanced and rich data around the growing interest in desistance and what leads someone to move away from crime.

Through in-depth interviews and his own lived experiences as a prisoner, the author highlights the importance of Higher Education in the desistance process as a conduit for change and rehabilitation. He explores the complex life process of the ex-offender, investigating the introspective and existential experiences that lead individuals towards an ongoing desistance journey in which they re-evaluate their sense of selves and develop new identities.

The author argues that in the current system, the focus on crime loses sight of the more complex and unending process of desistance. While becoming accepted by society is essential to desistance, society creates many barriers that prevent this from happening and the criminal justice system provides no formal rite of passage for ex-offenders attempting to re-integrate into society, thus leading to an unending transformative cycle of desistance.

This book seeks to synthesise and critically review desistance theory as it has emerged within contemporary criminology, and enlarge its capacity to engage with the complexities of the lives analysed in this research.
Chapter 1. Introducing desistance through the lived experience
Chapter 2. The Ambiguities of Institutions
Chapter 3. The Pains of Desistance
Chapter 4. Shared Narratives and Storytelling
Chapter 5. Negotiating Identities
Chapter 6. Concluding Thoughts
David Honeywell is a Research Assistant at the University of Manchester. He served a five-year prison sentence in the 1990s before going on to gain a bachelor's degree in Criminology, a master's degree in Social Research Methods and a PhD in Sociology from the University of York, with his thesis focusing on ex-prisoners in Higher Education. He has previously taught Criminology at Leeds Beckett, York, Durham and Hull universities.
David Honeywell’s book provides a uniquely critical and reflective exploration of desistance which is both experientially-grounded and research-informed. Written in a direct, engaging and challenging style, it deserves to be widely read by scholars, students and practitioners — indeed by anyone and everyone concerned both with supporting desistance from crime and with changing how we do justice. This book is full of voices we need to hear and heed, not least the author's. - Professor Fergus McNeill, University of Glasgow

Desistance theory has always benefitted from both the autobiographical perspectives of former prisoners as well as systematic academic study, yet in this fascinating new work, David Honeywell combines both of these sources of expertise, drawing on his own lived experience and rigorous research. The intersection of the two makes for a challenging, original and ground-breaking work and a model for keeping criminological research relevant and vibrant. - Professor Shadd Maruna, Queen's University Belfast

In one of the finest books ever written about imprisonment, Men in Prison, Victor Serge declares “A victory over jail is a great victory”. In this book David Honeywell follows Serge to present his own personal victory and those of others who have emerged from imprisonment and made their way through a university education. These remarkable journeys from institutions at the base of society to those nearer its top are gathered as evidence of the complications of desistance. Dr Honeywell offers the reader rare insights drawn from his own incarceration and his subsequent contributions to convict criminology. Like Serge, Honeywell takes his own prison experience and combines it with others into a particularly vivid and triumphant account of lives that prison did not destroy. Share his victory and theirs when you read this book. - Dr Rod Earl, The Open University

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