Imposed stories

Prisoner self-narratives in the criminal justice system in New South Wales, Australia

Maggie Hall*, Kate Rossmanith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the ways in which offenders1 are required to provide very particular accounts of themselves and to self-narrate in confined ways. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews conducted in the New South Wales justice system, it explores how the stories that offenders are made to accept and tell about themselves often bear little relationship to their own reflections. It analyses how, despite the expectations of judges and prison authorities, these self-narratives are not products of an offender's soul-searching concerning his2 past actions and experience; rather they are products of an official legal narrative being imposed on an offender whose capacity to own and enact such a narrative is already seriously compromised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-51
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Ethnography
  • Narratives
  • Parole
  • Prisons
  • Rehabilitation

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