In our volume Crime and the Punished, we featured our interview with sociologist-filmmakers Shadd Maruna and Fergus McNeill. This activity builds from their film:
How and why people stop committing crime is an important question. “Discovering Desistance,” by Sarah Lageson and Sarah Shannon describes how two social scientists “co-created” “The Road from Crime,” a film about desistance from the perspective of former prisoners and the practitioners who work with them. Watch the 50-minute film as you consider these discussion questions:
- In what ways might the criminal justice system promote reoffending?
- According to the filmmakers, desistance is both an “internal” and an “external” process. Where do you see internal and external processes in the film.
- What punishment policies might be changed, added, or abandoned to better promote desistance?
- Most people who work in the criminal justice system have never been convicted of serious crimes. How might the system be different if it incorporated more input from people who had been punished under it?
After watching the film, imagine that you are a social worker in a community to which many ex-prisoners return. What resources do you think you’d need to address community needs and help former inmates desist from crime? What community leaders or organizations would you need to enlist for support? Discuss your thoughts in a group and draw up a list of the “stakeholders” whose voices are critical for designing your policy.