Scripts for Safer Survival: Pathways Out of Female Crime



Abstract: The author explores some theoretical perspectives that, together, might aid development of a heuristic understanding of female desistance from crime: opportunity; identity; scripts; self-efficacy; and resilience. For an opportunity for desistance to be seized, it must not only present itself to the offender, but also be both recognised and valued as such. It is suggested that successful desistance from crime may be rooted in recognition of an opportunity to claim an alternative, desired and socially approved personal identity. Certain common identities that may present themselves as available (for example, mother) may also provide a ‘script’ by which to enact a conventional, pro-social social role. Accessibility of such a skeleton script enhances confidence in the ability to enact it successfully, thus altering the woman's sense of self-efficacy. Studies of resilience and coping further illuminate the skills and strategies that may be utilised to protect and perpetuate a newly acquired self-identity. The author concludes by drawing some implications for rehabilitation efforts based on such an understanding of female desistance.