Lives Sentenced: Experiences of Repeated Punishment

Summary

There has been little research examining how those who are punished by the criminal justice system experience and give meaning to their sentences. Research that does exist has largely focused on one single sentence. However, criminal punishment does not happen in isolation, but is given meaning in the context of wider lives, and for most offenders, in the context of previous punishments. This will especially be the case for persistent offenders, who generally experience many sentences and are the focus of much policy and practice attention. Through life-history interviews with around 35 offenders who have repeatedly been punished over at least 15 years, the proposed research aims to explore how persistent offenders interpret the accumulation of sentences in their lives. Follow-up interviews will be conducted 10-12 months later, to see how their interpretations and views have changed over this time. This will shed light on how their views are influenced by incarceration status (in prison/not in prison) and by other turning points in their lives.