Accounting for Homicide and Sub-Lethal Violence

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In this chapter the author analyses the excuses and justifications employed by men and women when discussing acts of lethal and sub-lethal violence. The themes discussed in this chapter draw upon data elicited from in-depth semi-structured interviews with 30 violent offenders (24 men and 6 women). Just under a third of these individuals had been convicted of murder or manslaughter. The remainder had been convicted of grievous or actual bodily harm and various forms of violence coupled with armed or street robbery. In exploring the accounts provided by these offenders the author identifies a diverse range of justifications and excuses for violence and considers how these offender narratives are linked to, and emerge from, the underlying tenets and narratives of mainstream society or a violent subculture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIn Their Own Words
Subtitle of host publicationCriminals on Crime - An Anthology
EditorsPaul Cromwell, Michael L. Birzer
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)978-0199920051
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • homicide
  • violent offenders
  • accounts of behaviour
  • subcultural beliefs
  • formula stories
  • rationalize crime
  • criminal behavior


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