Labeling Theory and Life Stories of Juvenile Delinquents Transitioning Into Adulthood

Labeling theory contends that an acquisition of a criminal status can be very problematic for offenders navigating into adulthood. This article examines this assertion with the life story of 23 juvenile delinquents. The objective of the study was to gain insight into how the negative reactions of fr...

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Published in:International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology
Main Author: Abrah, Prince Boamah
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2019
In:International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology
Year: 2019, Volume: 63, Issue: 2, Pages: 179-197
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:Labeling theory contends that an acquisition of a criminal status can be very problematic for offenders navigating into adulthood. This article examines this assertion with the life story of 23 juvenile delinquents. The objective of the study was to gain insight into how the negative reactions of friends, families, and society worked to change and reinforced their offending behavior. The qualitative data which resulted from the use of semi-structured interview guide revealed that self-motivation of offenders to move into "new" neighborhoods and the lack of labeling triggered a turning point among those who desisted than the persistent offenders. The theoretical implication of this finding is that labeling per se may not necessarily explain persistence in crime considering how those who desisted from crime maneuvered their labeling status in the face of discrimination. In formulating a desistance theory of crime and delinquency, criminologists need to revise and evaluate traditional labeling theory with life histories of offenders in the desistance process. This shift in paradigm will inform the coping mechanism of more offenders, as well as the appropriate techniques and strategies to reduce recidivism. Strengthening prison aftercare programs, provision of institutional and social support, and the integration of residential change into post offenders' treatment therapy will be in the right direction for policy makers.
ISSN:1552-6933