Black and mixed-heritage boys: desistance through a co-creative Critical Race and postcolonial lens

Wainwright, John Peter orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8190-0144 (2024) Black and mixed-heritage boys: desistance through a co-creative Critical Race and postcolonial lens. In: Desistance and Children: Critical Reflections from Theory, Research and Practice. Policy Press, pp. 128-146. ISBN 9781447369127

[thumbnail of VOR]
PDF (VOR) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


Official URL:


This chapter explores the everyday lives of Black and mixed-heritage boys in England and Wales, in their families, communities and their experiences of the criminal justice system (Lammy, 2017; HMIP, 2021a, b). Black and mixed-heritage children are disproportionality represented throughout the criminal (youth) justice system in contrast to being only 4% of the general population, the proportion of those children with initial contact with the police is 16%, 35% of those remanded or sentenced to custody and 41% of the child custodial population (Mullen et al, 2014; Taylor, 2016; Lammy, 2017; Robertson and Wainwright, 2020; HMIP, 2021a; YJB/MOJ, 2021 The focus of this chapter is on Black boys, rather than girls, because the experience of rac(ism) and disproportionality in the system is particularly pronounced for boys. Likewise, there are a particular set of circumstances and experiences of racism that Black boys endure inside and outside of the criminal justice system that are different from the form that boys of (South) Asian heritage experience. For this reason, boys of (South) Asian heritage are not discussed in the chapter. Although there are intersecting experiences of commonality for both Black and mixed-heritage girls and (South) Asian boys that resonate with those of Black boys, there is also a particularity for girls and South Asian boys that focuses on differences based on gender and/or faith and culture respectively (Mullen et al, 2014; Lammy, 2017). Taking this as an acknowledged point of departure, Critical Race Theory (CRT) will be used to discuss understandings of Black and mixed-heritage boys’ experiences in the criminal justice system and possible strategies of desistance (Crosby, 2016; Delgado and Stefancic, 2017; Dutil, 2020). Likewise, an awareness of the postcolonial Other will inform an understanding of Black and mixed-heritage boys’ experience within society (Fanon, 1967; Glynn, 2014). A focus on the family, the Black community, contested spaces, the education and the criminal justice system(s) can provide much to inform how practice and policy can develop effective strategies of desistance (McHugh, 2018; Wainwright, et al, 2020; Wainwright, 2021).

Repository Staff Only: item control page