Trajectories of hope/lessness among men and women in the late stage of a life sentence

Serena Wright, Susie Hulley, Ben Crewe

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Abstract

Drawing on Snyder’s ‘Hope Theory’ as a conceptual framework, this article examines the hope narratives of men and women at the ‘late stage’ of a life sentence. The paper aims to bridge the existing gap between jurisprudence and sociological accounts on hope and life imprisonment by extending this debate to men and women serving reducible life sentences in England and Wales, for whom release is not guaranteed but assumed to be attainable. Through focusing on the individual ways in which the spectre and procedural elements of release shape narratives of hope and hopelessness, this paper agrees with Vannier that recent human rights debates have fallen short in terms of subjectively understanding the complex relationship between ‘hope’ and ‘release’ for life-sentenced prisoners. It concludes by highlighting the necessity of procedural legitimacy in reducing uncertainty and promoting and maintaining hope among this group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-84
JournalTheoretical Criminology
Volume27
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Life sentence
  • Hope
  • Long-term imprisonment
  • Indeterminate sentences
  • Prisoners
  • Progression
  • Release

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