The Discipline and Punish Podcast
The Discipline and Punish Podcast
E14: Desistance from Crime as a Social Movement: Change in an Age of Civil Unrest (w/ Shadd Maruna)

In this episode, Professor Shadd Maruna and I discuss his work on desistance from crime. We talk about how desistance is becoming a social movement, the importance of centering the lived experiences of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, and what we can learn from other social movements as we move to make change in policing following the George Floyd murder subsequent uprisings.  

Prior to moving to Queen’s University Belfast, Shadd Maruna was a lecturer at the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester, and a Dean of the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice (US). His book Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives was named the “Outstanding Contribution to Criminology” by the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in 2001. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Soros Justice Fellow, and an H. F. Guggenheim Fellow, and has received research funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the ESRC, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, among other sources. He has received awards from the Howard League for Penal Reform and from the ESRC for the impact of his research on challenging the prison and probation systems. He has authored or edited six books and over 85 articles and book chapters since 1997. @istudytrustTwitter: @criminology

Tom Baker in a 2018 Tillman Scholar and has been a PhD student in UMSL’s Criminology and Criminal Justice program since 2017. Tom received his BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and worked as a police officer for approximately nine years. His research interests include police culture, use of force, and qualitative research methods.

Twitter: @thomasowenbaker

Research Discussed:


Maruna, S. (2017). Desistance as a social movement. Irish Probation Journal, 14(1), 5-20.


 Article Abstract:

Summary: Desistance from crime has been a considerable success story for academic criminology. The concept has deep roots, but did not emerge as a mainstream focus of study for the field until the 1990s movement towards developmental or life-course criminology. From these origins, however, the term has taken on a life of its own, influencing policy and practice in criminal justice. This paper will briefly review this history, then explore what might be next for desistance research among numerous possible futures. I argue that the most fruitful approach would be to begin to frame and understand desistance not just as an individual process or journey, but rather as a social movement, like the Civil Rights movement or the ‘recovery movements’ among individuals overcoming addiction or mental health challenges. This new lens better highlights the structural obstacles inherent in the desistance process and the macro-social changes necessary to successfully create a ‘desistance-informed’ future. Keywords: Desistance, social movement theory, mass incarceration, stigma.

Support the show (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *