How the resettlement of prisoners promotes desistance from crime: Or does it?

Mike Maguire*, Peter Raynor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The article considers current developments in the 'resettlement' of prisoners in the light of recent theory and research on factors promoting desistance from crime. While recognizing improvements promised by the Reducing Re-offending National Action Plan and the concept of 'end-to-end' offender management, it is argued that these are unlikely to reduce re-offending significantly without greater attention to individual offenders' mental processes and levels of self-motivation, which are identified by the desistance literature (as well as much of the 'what works' literature) as critical factors in personal change. An account is given of a promising approach adopted in the 'Resettlement Pathfinders', where a cognitive-motivational programme was combined with practical services, with encouraging early results. However, concerns are expressed that even the most innovative approaches may be undermined by features of the broader context within which correctional services are delivered, including an excessive emphasis on enforcement (which makes no allowance for the 'zigzag' nature of desistance) and the potentially negative impact of 'contestability' on relational continuity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-38
    Number of pages20
    JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


    • Desistance
    • NOMS
    • Offender management
    • Probation
    • Resettlement


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