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'On Licence: Understanding punishment, recidivism and desistance in penal policy, 1853-1945'

Cox, David, Godfrey, Barry, Johnston, Helen and TURNER, Jo (2014) 'On Licence: Understanding punishment, recidivism and desistance in penal policy, 1853-1945'. In: Transnational Penal Cultures: New perspectives on discipline, punishment and desistance. routledge, London, pp. 184-201. ISBN 978-1138288423

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Abstract or description

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, British legislators reacted
to the perceived growth in a hard core of violent repeat offenders and struggled
to fi nd solutions to the problem of recidivism. The concept of dangerousness,
and the potential threat posed by those people who appeared to be less
affected by civilising processes that appeared to be effective in making Britain
a safer place to live, have since been a recurring topic of study for researchers
of nineteenth-century society. 1 Others, such as Leon Radzinowicz and Roger
Hood, have focused more on legislation such as the Penal Servitude Acts
(1853–64), Habitual Offender Acts (1869–91) and the Preventive Detention
Act (1908), which were designed to incapacitate offenders through the
imposition of long prison sentences and extended police supervision. 2 In
an attempt to make the system to work effectively, a vast bureaucracy was
created which was responsible for the identifi cation and tracking of many
thousands of former prisoners and convicts. This served to create a huge
range and number of archived written documentary records – many of which
can now be utilised by historians to examine the impact of particular forms
of legislation on offenders and the length of their criminal careers. In this
chapter we present some case studies in order to outline both the possibilities,
and also some of the possible pitfalls, of using these bureaucratic records
in modern research. We contribute to the debates initiated by Radzinowicz
and Hood by examining the impact of penal practices and policies on repeat
offenders in order to understand the relative effects of punishment and
surveillance, and also other signifi cant events in individual offenders’ lives, on
their offending over the whole course of their lives.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Additional Information: Book chapter in: “Transnational Penal Cultures: New perspectives on discipline, punishment and desistance” Edited ByVivien Miller, James Campbell. Published 2014 by Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Criminal Justice and Forensic Science
Depositing User: Jo TURNER
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2019 10:51
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2019 11:53
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/5381

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