Life imprisonment in mature adulthood: adaptation, risk, and reform later in the life course

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Recent theorisations of adaptation to life imprisonment emphasise the role of moral and biographical reflection by people in prison. Using an analysis of a subsample from a larger study in England and Wales, composed of men serving life sentences imposed after their fortieth birthdays, this article suggests that they adapted themselves to the prison regime both more quickly and more pragmatically than their younger counterparts. It describes how their accounts of the index offence, which were often justificatory and sometimes victim-blaming, had often gone unchallenged because they were a low priority for intervention, and less motivated by working towards an (imagined) better future. These findings add nuance to recent work in prison sociology of adaptation to very long sentences.

life imprisonment, moral reflection, ageing, mature adulthood, adaptation to imprisonment, life course
Journal Title
Prison Service Journal
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Journal ISSN
Volume Title
HM Prison & Probation Service and the Centre for Crime & Justice Studies
Publisher DOI
Publisher's own licence
ESRC (2405252)