Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives / Edition 1by Shadd Maruna
Pub. Date: 05/28/2007
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Noting that so-called super-predators "may not exist, but they certainly sell a lot of books," Maruna (criminal justice, State U. of New York, Albany) instead focuses on the class of people that, according to common wisdom, should commit more crime, but do not. Basing his analysis largely on the findings of the Liverpool Desistance Study (a qualitative investigation of desistance from crime by British ex-convicts conducted between 1996 and 1998, he argues that in order to successfully maintain an abstinence from crime, ex- offenders need to "develop a coherent, prosocial identity for themselves," often by developing self-narratives that describe to themselves and others how they have transformed themselves from criminals into new, reformed identities. Redemption rituals in which reformed individuals have had their reform "certified" by authorities and relatives often reinforce the success of this process. The possible institutionalization of this reintegration practice is recommended.
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This is a beautifully written and thought provoking look at how ex-offenders can effectively rebuild their lives. It also reminds us, the average Joe, on what part we can and should play in that process. More than anything it is filled with humanity and wisdom. Maruna writes like a pro, making the book intelligible for anyone to enjoy, (you don't have to be a criminologist)and more than that, helps us to truely understand things from new perspectives. This book has won the Michael J. Hindelang Award, given by the American Society of Criminology for a most outstanding contribution to criminology in 2001. I can only say the author deserves it.
This book was excellent. It would be of interest to anyone interested in the field of corrections. Maruna provides information on popular theories of desistance and then provides his own theory for how ex-offenders are able to turn their lives around and 'make good.' Anyone will be able to get something out of the book, one does not have to be a criminologist or sociologist to understand it. He explains everything so that anyone can understand it. I was impressed that he did not forget women. They made up one/fifth of his sample; many studies omit women because they are 'too few to matter' since they are underrepresented in prison demographics. The only weaknesses I found were that this theory is not generalizable as he did not include interviews from many minorities and that his sample size may have been too small. It would be interesting to see if there is a difference between the way different races desist from crime, or if that makes a difference.