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Offenders make excuses


Antidote is to take responsibility


Offended at least once a week for at least

two years
 aersisters Have been offending
alan to continue

 Desisters Over a year crime free

alanned on desisting
On average desisted 2
to 3 years

 ›eneral offenders, mostly property

] ost of the persisters one finds do not
seem to really persist, most desisters do
not seem to really desist, and, honestly, it
is getting harder than ever to find any

Did Not Differ

aersonality Traits

Openness to Experience

Did Not Differ

Abused and Neglected as Children

Desisting 37%

Active 35%
( aruna, 2000)

Did Not Differ

Left School at 16

aersisters 63%

Desisters 65%

( aruna
aruna,, 2000)


 aersisters 65%

 Desisters 67%
Œncarcerated Offenders

Drug Abuse 41% First Offenders

63% 2 Convictions

81% 5 or ore Convictions


 Exaggerated and unrealistic control over

 Œnflated, narcissistic, missionary sense of


 aast not shameful but necessary prelude to

future calling
è h



Fairly Accurate

 Assessments of situation

 Chance of success in straight world

 alace in mainstream society


 Sense of helplessness

 Outcome determined

 Lack of choices
. ]hat do you see in your life, say 5 or 10
years down the road?

]Φm scared to think that far ahead actually.

Right now, Φm just living one day at a
time actually. You can¶t afford to look
any further Œ suppose, µcause you just
don¶t know what¶s around the next
( aruna
aruna,, 2000, p. 76)
Desisters 5 times more likely have

]language of agency´

( aruna
aruna,, 2000)
. ]How about long term, 5 or 10 years
down the road? Any vision?

]Œ haven¶t got a vision to be truthful, long

term. aybe Φll win the lottery, you
( aruna, 2000, p. 80)

 ]The drink was killing me by the age of 21.´

 ]Heroin made me sneaky.´

 ]Œt just happened to lapse.´

( aruna, 2000, p. 93)

 ]Œt started off with little things and then it
got bigger, you know.´

 ]Œt just went on and on. Œt went on like that

for about 2 or 3 years.´

 ]You¶re stuck in a vicious circle.´

Œ | Œ

 Deviance is ]Œt´
]Œt wasn¶t me.´

 ]Œt´ does things to ]me.´


 Had conventional morality
 Objected to crime in abstract
 Felt personally forced to do it
 Justified previous behavior
 Did not show any real regret for crimes
 Did not see selves as criminals

Developed a Story To

 Rationalize failings of the past

 Justify decision to go straight


unrealistically Optimistic

]Πbelieve that all recovering addicts are the
Chosen Ones. That¶s my point of view. Œ
feel we are all chosen by ›od, because
we¶re loved. . . The people who are not
addicts, they¶re not ± they still have their
problems. aeople who are in recovery. . .
They learn how to live life on life¶s terms.´
( aruna
aruna,, 2000, pp. 98

Rationalized and ade Excuses for aast

]ecause of all that Œ have been through, Œ

am now this new way.´

( aruna
aruna,, 2000)
]Πnow feel as though Πcan achieve what Φve
Y Y wanted to achieve, you know,
which is gain some qualifications and get a
job that Œ can, um, help other people in.´

( aruna, 2000, p. 89)

 ]hat Πalways saw in other people was
one thing ΠY YY and that was
integrity. . . .Œt¶s either in you or it isn¶t and Œ
used to think ± Œ knew Œ had integrity, but
as soon as Πused to pick up a drink, it just
went wayward.´
( aruna, 2000, 89)
]Œ wasn¶t happy selling [drugs], you know.
You¶re making money and whatever, it
was just something that, what it was, it
was the people that Φd come into contact
with, selling it. Œ just didn¶t like . . Œt took
me into a world, a seedy world that Œ didn¶t
like.. . Πmean the low
low--life scum bags, low
intelligence, you know. Πhad nothing in
( aruna, 2000, p. 91)

 Always a good soul

 A victim of circumstance
 ›ood ]accidentally´ involved with crime
 aroduct of his childhood
 ith help from outside force
 Can now accomplish what was ]meant to
 Now must ]give something back´

Continuity between Oldest Self and New Self

]a good brain´
]a good heart´
]street smarts´
]understanding of how life works´¶
!  | 


]Œnstead of discovering a µnew me,´ the

desisting ex-
ex-offender reaches back into
early experience to find and reestablish an
µold me¶ in order to desist.´
( aruna
aruna,, 2000, p. 89)
]Œt was just that, um, Œ realized that the entire
thing had all been an act, my entire life, all
the criminal offenses, all me drug taking, it
was all a sham. . . Œt was just like what it
was, was right at the core of me, Πam who
Πam now, who Φve always been inside.
Φve always been intelligent, right, inside.
Φve always been intelligent, honest, hard
working, truth, erm, nice, you know love.. .
.it couldn¶t get out.´ ( aruna, 2000, p. 92)

]All the energy we used to have for thieving
± we used to get up and rob all over the
country . . . all that energy has just gone
into all legit things, you know.´

( aruna
aruna,, 2000, p. 92)

 Œn past No control or choice

 Œn future All control and choice

! -  !

" §  | 
Desisters aersisters

Reporting 1/3 1/3

Excuses 1/3 1/3

( aruna
aruna,, 2000)
]Em, yea, Πwas selling drugs, so Πgot done
for supplying. Φve been done for
possession, shoplifting, stolen check
books, social security books, but Πcan still
put my hand on me heart and say Πnever
walked into anyone¶s house and took their
money. So there¶s still some morals, Œ
( aruna, 2000, p. 134)