"One Handprint Closer to a Change of Heart": How Significant Relationships Influence Adult Males' Desistance from Violent Behavior

Files

benveniste_dissertation_corrected__pdf.pdf

Citation

Benveniste, Debra, “"One Handprint Closer to a Change of Heart": How Significant Relationships Influence Adult Males' Desistance from Violent Behavior,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed April 4, 2020, https://beatleyweb.simmons.edu/scholar/items/show/340.

Title

"One Handprint Closer to a Change of Heart": How Significant Relationships Influence Adult Males' Desistance from Violent Behavior

Creator

Benveniste, Debra

Date

2014

Description

Violent crime is a serious public health issue and desistance is the least understood aspect of criminal behavior (Loeber, et al., 2007). Discovering factors that aid offenders to refrain from it is vital to developing interventions that reduce reoffending. This qualitative study’s main focus is adult male respondents’ own sense of their desistance, specifically the nature and mechanisms of significant relationships and their impact on desistance from violent crime. Eleven men over the age of 25 with a history of violent behavior who were residing in the community for at least five years after an incarceration were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. The sample was obtained by partnering with agencies providing services to ex-offenders using snowball and convenience methods. Data were analyzed using classical content analysis and open coding based on a constructivist paradigm. Respondents found significant relationships important to their desistance process. Findings indicate that respondents’ desistance was comprised of an identity change process that produces prosocial behavior. Respondents described affective and cognitive themes related to identity change and themes related to behavioral change that occurred in response to relational experiences and events that facilitated their desistance. Over half of the respondent group experienced desistance in two phases: primary desistance, in which violent behavior stopped but substance abuse-related crime continued, and secondary desistance, in which an identity shift from criminal to prosocial community member occurred and all criminal activity ceased. Findings have implications for social work practice, social work education, and criminal justice policy. Relationally-based treatment interventions which support desistance should be emphasized in social work practice and education. Restorative Justice is an example of a successful criminal justice system program that emphasizes the mending of relationships after a crime has occurred. This study’s finding support the literature about the importance of significant relationships in the desistance process. It adds to the research base by detailing the mechanisms that facilitate this change. Further research is recommended.

Publisher

Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)

Format

1 PDF (206 Pages)

Language

English

Type

Doctoral Dissertations

Collection