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Desistance and the state: revisiting the individualization thesis in criminology and criminal justice

Barry, Monica; Farrall, Stephen; France, Alan


Monica Barry

Alan France


The growing influence of neo-liberalism in crime policy and practice has resulted in the responsibilization of individuals: criminality and risk tend now to be seen as operating at the individual level, rather than the structural level. Individuals are solely responsible for their actions, not only in starting offending but also in stopping, and are to blame for their own predicament (an epistemological fallacy). Herein, we argue that structural barriers to rehabilitation and reintegration were erected by political decision making from the 1980s. This resulted in criminal justice practitioners increasingly focussing on individual-level factors (cognition, agency, employability) and neglecting the structural causes of offending. We thus propose that the state take a more proactive stance in reducing reoffending and fostering opportunities for reintegration through broader social welfarism, rather than penal policies.


Barry, M., Farrall, S., & France, A. (2022). Desistance and the state: revisiting the individualization thesis in criminology and criminal justice. Kriminologisches Journal, 3/2022, 181-198.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2022
Publication Date Sep 1, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 1, 2022
Journal Kriminologisches Journal
Print ISSN 0341-1966
Publisher Beltz Juventa
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3/2022
Pages 181-198
Keywords Desistance; epistemological fallacy; individualization; neo-liberalism; probation; social practice; the state
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Additional Information Special Issue on Desistance-research, critical criminology and practical work in rehabilitation of convicted persons


Desistance and the State: Revisiting the Individualization Thesis in Criminology and Criminal Justice (263 Kb)

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