‘The life I chose or the life that chose me’: a phenomenological study of the life experiences of mature offenders

Hornsby, Paula (2015) ‘The life I chose or the life that chose me’: a phenomenological study of the life experiences of mature offenders. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    In July 2013 the Justice Committee confirmed that older prisoners are the fastest growing group within the prison population. This study is motivated by distinct gap in academic literature which attempts to comprehend this seemingly growing trend. From evaluating the narratives of a sample of mature offenders, it aims to recognise any factors that encourage the onset of crime, promote criminal activity and increased or decrease the risk of the continuation of offending into old age. It is hoped that this trend can then be addressed with a more informed understanding. Further, it seeks to establish if the cause of continuous offending into maturity is a life choice or a product of life’s circumstances so as to improve the knowledge of motivation.
    This study was based upon qualitative data from a sample who were, at the point of interview, licensed to report to the probation service. Three men and one woman, aged between 49 and 53, were invited to talk freely, in a semi-structured interview, about their life histories, their criminality and how they viewed their future. This data was analysed using an Interpretative Phenomenological Approach which interprets how the individual makes sense of their personal life experiences.
    There was evidence to suggest that barriers to desistance increased with age both through the lack of natural bonds associated with society and the reluctance to accept rehabilitation opportunities available to them within the criminal justice system. There was a strong association with drug/violence related crimes and evidence to demonstrate that prison was not viewed as a deterrent. Desistance requires the engagement of the individual, a point this research found to be prominent, and the lack of engagement can stimulate a persistent criminal cycle. This promotes a fear that those who continue to offend into old age become labelled ‘beyond help’, justifying the view that resources are better spent on individuals more likely to respond, thus allowing the issue of the older prisoner population increasing, to escalate further.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2015 12:28
    Last Modified: 30 Jun 2015 12:28
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/17507

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