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Title: 'Persistent' and 'prolific' offending across the life-course as experienced by women : chronic recidivism and frustrated desistance
Author: Wright, Serena
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 9372
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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This qualitative study is an empirical examination of the lived experience of women’s ‘life-course persistent’ offending and – for some – the episodes of ‘prolific’ offending which pockmarked it. It investigates factors central to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of women’s enduring recidivism within the context of the individual life course, as well as seeking to understand the impact of various criminal justice interventions – including the Prolific and other Priority Offender [PPO] initiative – in shaping their offending trajectories over the life-course. Twelve incarcerated women in two English prisons, identifiable as either ‘persistent’ (six or more convictions across the life-course) and/or ‘prolific’ (identified as a PPO), and fifteen criminal justice practitioners and professionals participated in the study. Data was generated by drawing on life-course, ‘pathways’, narrative, and feminist modes of inquiry and analysis. The overall research findings drew attention to the centrality of addiction in the ‘criminal careers’ of female persistent and prolific [PAOP] offenders, and that these addictions often had their roots in women’s acute trauma histories, and the subsequent adoption of substance use as a (maladaptive, and enduring) coping strategy. The biographical accounts provided by the women suggest that the language of ‘persistence’ may serve to obscure the lived realities of repeat criminalisation, which in their experience were better understood as recurrent episodes of attempted, or frustrated, desistance. The accounts given by practitioners and professionals highlighted that while largely sensitive to the need for gender-responsive interventions in working with female PAOP offenders, a lack guidance, resources, and access to appropriate services can act to undermine their abilities to respond in accordance with this awareness. Finally, both practitioners and PAOP offenders alike indicated that the androcentric and risk-focused PPO framework was not appropriate effectively supporting substance-addicted female PAOP offenders in ‘getting out of the life’ they were often so desperate to leave behind.
Supervisor: Tarling, R.; Bullock, K. A.; McCarthy, D. Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available