Risks of reintegration: young offenders perception of making the transition back to their communities

Dawes, Glenn (2007) Risks of reintegration: young offenders perception of making the transition back to their communities. In: Proceedings of the CROCCS 5th International Conference: Overcoming Violence & Poverty, pp. 122-128. From: CROCCS 5th International Conference: Overcoming Violence & Poverty, 3-5 AUG 2007, Mackay, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

This paper presents the outcomes of a two year longitudinal study of young people with re-offending histories who attempt to reintegrate back to their communities following their release from detention. The research focuses on the risks young people identified which impede them from making successful post-release destinations. Such factors include dysfunctional homes, poverty, peer group influences, substance abuse and a lack of accessibility to education and employment. Interview data shows that in many cases the structured life of institutions such as detention is often preferable to the unstructured unpredictable life that exists in outside world for many young people. The paper concludes with some strategies which could be assist young offenders to make successful reintegrations and to desist from crime. The nature of risk and risk taking on the individual in late modern society has been an ongoing sociological debate. The work of Ulrich Beck (1992) and Anthony Giddens (1991) argued that the world can no longer depend on the rationality of science to provide answers to new problems CROCCS Conference 3-5 August 2007 122 Overcoming Violence and Poverty associated with the effects of industrialisation. As a new and dangerous world emerges, individuals are more concerned with preventing or removing risk from their lives. Risks therefore become more individualized and society regards "social problems" as individual shortcomings rather than as a result of social processes. As the individual loses the traditional markers of security such as belonging to a particular social class or family he/she has becomes 'disembedded' from the old order and reintegrated into a new and changing new social order. The liberation for the individual from the traditional societal markers allows them to develop reflexive biographies where they can freely choose their identities through access to various forms of consumption such as fashion, leisure or occupations. However while the individual may have the freedom to consume and construct alternative identities they are at the same time constrained and increasingly dependent on "secondary agencies" that shape their biographies through the kinds of interactions they have with institutions such as education, health and training programmes leading the individual to become "institutionally dependent on individual situations" (p.130). The conditions of doubt that penetrate all social life means that the construction of ones identity therefore becomes a lonely business which is "full of risks which need to be confronted and fought alone" (Bauman 2001, p.xvii). However not all sectors of society are confronted with the same risks. For example wealthy people can buffer themselves from potential risk compared to less well off or vulnerable social groups. The development of individualised risk society therefore has implications for the sectors of society who may not possess social economic or political power. "Inequalities in class and risk society can therefore overlap and condition one another, the latter can produce the former (Beck, 1992:45). Risk and poverty and class are therefore more likely to coincide producing unequal life outcomes for some groups of individuals. Research on young people portray them as risk takers who are often more vulnerable while they are developing their biographies and making the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Furlong and Cartmel (1997) suggest that individualization and the feelings of greater vulnerability have increased young people's insecurity and heightened their awareness of risk. Certainly young people today face a very different world from their parents as they encounter less certainty due to the changing labour market, an increased demand for an educated workforce and in many cases an extended period of dependency on their families. However Furlong and Cartmel's analysis is limited because it fails to recognise that some young people are more vulnerable to the risks of society compared to other youth who are economically and socially advantaged. This paper attempts to address this limitation by focusing on the social and CROCCS Conference 3-5 August 2007 123 Overcoming Violence and Poverty cultural contexts of how young male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who have histories of reoffending behaviour construct their biographies in limiting the risks associated with reintegrating back to their communities after their release from detention.

Item ID: 3136
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
Additional Information:

Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2009 01:29
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1602 Criminology > 160299 Criminology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1801 Law > 180120 Legal Institutions (incl Courts and Justice Systems) @ 30%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment @ 20%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940102 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare @ 40%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940404 Law Enforcement @ 20%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940105 Childrens/Youth Services and Childcare @ 40%
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