Understanding Desistance from Crime: Emerging Theoretical Directions in Resettlement and Rehabilitation

By Stephen Farrall; Adam Calverley | Go to book overview
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Intermezzo
The impact of imprisonment

I know not whether laws be right,
Or whether laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day like a year,
A year whose days are long.

(Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, 1898)

AC:What was the effect of prison on you?
Jimmy:It fucking devastated me.

Although our study was of probation supervision, many of our sample members served some time in prison for further offences. In this brief sojourn from the main topic of our enquiries, we explore the impact of imprisonment on this sample of men and women and their offending careers.


Prison as a time and place to think?

Some of our sample members reported that being in prison acted as a 'wake up call' and allowed them the time to reflect on their lives and make new plans for the future. Michael, for example, when interviewed for the fourth time, said:

I end up doing another prison sentence, I'd done another, err, what
did I do? I'd done a twelve month prison sentence after that twelve
month prison sentence. I was out there I think for eighteen months
and I was committing offences because I was still using [heroin] but I
was unhappy with what I was doing. And then this [current] sentence
I got this three years two months I think that was the wake up call
that I needed. I think it was at the time where I landed in there, I
realized what I was doing to myself. Realized that, err, I was just
getting the same results out of drug use and all the results were
negative. It was like I was punishing myself and then I took it upon

-68-

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