UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The point of no return : Aboriginal offenders' journey towards a crime free life. Howell, Teresa


The goal of this study was to gather information from Aboriginal offenders and develop a categorical map that describes the factors that help and hinder maintaining a crime free life after incarceration. The critical incident technique was utilized to examine 42 Aboriginal offenders’ journeys from prison to the community. Three hundred and forty-one incidents collapsed into nine major categories representing themes that were helpful in maintaining a crime free life: 1) transformation of self; 2) cultural and traditional experiences; 3) healthy relationships; 4) having routine and structure in daily living; 5) freedom from prison; 6) purpose and fulfillment in life; 7) attempting to live alcohol and drug free; 8) professional support and programming; and 9) learning to identify and express oneself. Seventy-eight incidents formed four categories representing obstacles that interfere with maintaining a crime free life: 1) self; 2) unhealthy relationships; 3) substance use; and 4) lack of opportunity and professional support. The findings were compared and contrasted to two major theories in the literature: desistance and the risk-needs-responsivity principle. Most of the categories were well substantiated in the literature contributing knowledge to theory, policy, practice, and the community. Information obtained from this study provides an increased understanding of the needs of Aboriginal offenders and offers guidance concerning useful strategies to incorporate into their wellness plans when entering the community, most notably respecting Aboriginal culture and traditional practices. The findings also add awareness of those circumstances, issues, and problems that arise during transition that may be harmful or create obstacles to a successful transition.

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