Young offenders, spiritual journeys and criminal desistance in Denmark and Scotland

Ross Deuchar, Line Lerche Mørck, Yonah Matemba, Robert McLean, Nighet Riaz

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Previous research evidence has suggested that the process of desisting from crime is often stimulated through generative activities, and that faith-based programmes can stimulate such generativity (Cressey, 1955; Maruna, 2001; Giordano et al., 2008). This paper will share insights from a transNordic European comparative study which sought to explore the extent to and ways in which a small sample of prison chaplains in Denmark and Scotland initiate opportunities to take young violent offenders on personal, spiritual and/or religious journeys and foster opportunities for generativity. Qualitative data was gathered in Scotland’s largest young offenders’ prison and in two remand prisons in Copenhagen. During visits to each prison, semi-structured interviews were conducted with young offenders and prison chaplains. Insights from the data suggest that pastors (both Christian and Islamic) provided personal, supportive mentorship and encouraged the young men to draw upon their own damaged pasts and see their own potential for growth and development within a moral framework (Giordano et al., 2008; Nurden, 2010). Inmates felt that their meetings with pastors provided them with a safe space where they felt listened to and respected. The paper will share insights into the spiritual journeys that inmates embarked upon, and the relationship between these journeys and their propensity towards criminal desistance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventContemporary Youth Contemporary Risk: Journal of Youth Studies Conference - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 30 Mar 20151 Apr 2015


ConferenceContemporary Youth Contemporary Risk


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