Ontological theory and women's desistance: Is it simply a case of 'growing up'?

Barr, Una Mairead (2016) Ontological theory and women's desistance: Is it simply a case of 'growing up'? In: The Howard League for Penal Reform Justice and Penal Reform Conference, 16-18 March 2016, Oxford.

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This article critically explores the ontological theory of desistance from offending as put forward by authors such as Glueck and Glueck (1950) and Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990). These authors argue that offending is a behaviour that most individuals will ‘naturally’ desist from. This article examines the desistance journeys as travelled by a small group of Northshire-based women. As a starting point, it is worth considering the average age of the women interviewed as part of this study. The average age of the women interviewed was 39 at the time of first interview. The average age of last offence was 37. It can be immediately surmised that for the women involved in this study, offending was not a behaviour limited to adolescence. Yet as will be seen, the women in this study represent a variety of offending trajectories. For example, there are women interviewed who had only ever committed one offence, women who confined their offending to later in life and there is some qualitative support nonetheless for the power of aging and the passage of time in the desistance process.

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