Life beyond murder: exploring the identity reconstruction of mandatory lifers after release

Rusu, Dan (2022) Life beyond murder: exploring the identity reconstruction of mandatory lifers after release. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Dan Rusu PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Apr 2022_Final Award Oct 2022.pdf - Accepted Version

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Soon after release, mandatory lifers are on a ‘mission’ to reconstruct their lives: at the heart of such a project of reconstruction is their identity. Despite a general interest evidenced in desistance literature on the importance of identity reconstruction for general ex-offenders, there is a paucity of studies that explored the ways in which mandatory life sentenced individuals reconstruct and negotiate identities post-release. This is problematic, considering that people who committed murder have been found to confront a specific ‘offence-crime nexus’ (Wright, Crewe, and Hulley 2017), so their adaptation to the index offence and imprisonment may lead to maladaptive behaviors post-release. In addition, the following gaps were identified: (1) the type of murder committed had not been seriously considered in how homicide offenders make sense of their own identity post-release; (2) research tends to focus on retrospective accounts of desisting versus non-desisting individuals as opposed to using longitudinal designs. A longitudinal narrative interview was conducted with five mandatory lifers (11 interviews in total) who committed different types of murder (revenge, random, financial gain, and intimate partner feminicide, see Brookman, 2022) over a period of two years. It was found that released mandatory lifers negotiate ethical identities in the interview context by constructing hierarchies of moral abomination as well as through problematizing their involvement in the murder through employing a ‘Splitting Narrative’. The latter represents the first internal narrative of desistance for people who committed murder in criminological research. Beyond these discursive elements, the thesis evidenced that soon after release, mandatory lifers need to negotiate their identities against a series of ‘push-pull’ forces which either constrain or enable the development of pro-social identities (the role of the family, employment, consumer culture, and supervision are discussed). Finally, the thesis provides a set of practical recommendations for criminal justice organisations and the charity sector working with released mandatory life sentenced individuals.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
29 April 2022Submitted
18 October 2022Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Identity, Murder, Rehabilitation, Resettlement, Stigma, Life Sentence
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-01 - social sciences (non-specific)
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Criminology and Sociology
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2023 16:29
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2023 16:29

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