Desisting in France: What probation officers know and do. A first approach

  • Martine Herzog-Evans (Ph D, Professor of Law, University of Reims)

French probation services operate without much knowledge of criminological literature. Thus they have never heard of desistance. This research aimed at verifying whether they nonetheless had an overall idea of what it takes to desist and whether they helped offenders with obstacles to desistance. Their opinions were contrasted to those of other practitioners and the views of desisters. Despite the methodological limitations of this small scale study, one can nonetheless attempt to formulate a few conclusions: French probation services have a good idea of what it takes to desist, but have neither the capacity nor the will to effectively help offenders to do so. Their perception is for the most part confirmed by desisters. However, they differ on several desistance factors such as peers and budget. Another French trait is revealed: both practitioners and desisters think that Making Good (Maruna, 2001) is irrelevant. Some cultural factors are suggested in order to try and explain this surprising discovery.

Keywords: Desistance, Probation Officer, Effectiveness, France

Full Text: PDF