A Monstrous ‘Other’? Myth and Meaning in Male Ex‐Prisoner Narratives
thesisposted on 12.09.2013, 11:58 by Finola Farrant
This thesis explores the concepts of ‘crime’, justice and punishment through the narratives of male ex‐prisoners. I adopt a critical criminological perspective and seek to humanise those who have been made monstrous by their status as ex‐prisoners by allowing their stories to be heard. I provide a unique examination of ex‐prisoners’ identities and argue that if we allow those who have experienced prison to tell their stories, new theories and counter discourses about prisons and justice can develop. By hearing these stories we are forced to confront the ex‐prisoner ‘other’, and must explain our own fears, disgust, pity, vitriol, but also fascination with those who have been punished. In hearing the stories of the ex‐prisoner ‘other’, we must reflect on what demands for ever harsher penalties, greater restrictions on liberty, disenfranchisement, and the denial of full human rights does: to those whom we focus these pains upon, and on us, as a society, who believe pain is the equivalent of justice. The methodology of the thesis involved life story research with 15 male ex‐prisoners. Utilising intertextuality, myth and mythology, the arc of the ex‐prisoners’ life stories is followed in analysing: life before prison, imprisonment, and life after prison. In doing this, consideration is given to the outlaw identities of the men when they were actively involved in offending, the prison myths that shaped their experience of incarceration, and the mutable identities that they adopt on release. The stories recounted here offer new ways of understanding ‘crime’, justice and imprisonment. They also, I argue, have the power to problematize existing discourses about prisons and punishment, and to open up new possibilities for social justice.