Approaching black men’s desistance
An oﬀender, whilst serving a sentence, must be equipped with the necessary tools to successfully re-enter and ‘reintegrate’ back into the community. It is then hoped that they will rebuild their lives and contribute to the continuing development of the community by being ‘reformed’, as a consequence of experiencing positive rehabilitative processes. They will then hopefully be prepared for a life free from crime, and to ultimately ‘desist’. However, my research has revealed that for many black men returning to the community from prison, this is not the case. It is right, therefore, to assume that by privileging the voices of black men’s experiences of both ‘re-entry’ and their journey towards desistance, a unique opportunity to understand how the racialisation of criminal justice policy has presented itself in either enhancing or hindering this possibility. Indeed, my observations and participation in prison rehabilitation pro-
grammes targeted at black men over three decades have led me to believe that seldom have the insights, understandings, and ‘lived’ experiences of the black men who come into contact within the criminal justice system been taken into consideration when contributing to the broader dialogue on the study of both re-entry and desistance. Approaching black men’s desistance confronted me with a range of searching questions about the ability to objectify a research journey, where I shared much of the same socio-historical context and positioning as those I was researching. The research therefore started with several key questions:
What impact does the racialisation of crime/criminal justice systems have on the desistance process for black men?