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Introduction: Life after punishment: Identifying new strands in the research agenda

For the past few years, the four of us have been fortunate enough to have been involved in the organisation of a series of seminars devoted, in one way or another, to the consideration of the lives of some of those people who have found themselves caught up in the criminal justice system. The fi rst two of the seminars were held at Keele University and were paid for by the Department of Criminology there. 1 A subsequent six seminars were funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of a seminar series devoted to the exploration of ‘life after punishment’. 2 These six seminars have now resulted in two collections of essays; one of which is this volume. 3 A further seminar, devoted to a review of criminal careers research in Europe was also held in Keele. 4

In this introduction, we will not only introduce the essays selected for inclusion in the current volume (which is of course only right and proper for such a venture), but we also want to take this opportunity to summarise what we feel we learnt about life after punishment 5 from our involvement in these seminars. Of course, it would be quite impossible to summarise and distil all that was said in over 40 presentations (not counting the formal responses made by discussants) or the discussions generated amongst attendees, and so we will have to content ourselves with ‘cherry-picking’ the highlights and key messages which came out from both specifi c papers and from across the discussions we held.