Deconstructing the Panacea of Volunteering in Criminal Justice

Mary Corcoran, Jurgen Grotz

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The announcement in November 2012 by the Minister of Justice of plans to recruit volunteering organisations as indispensable to his ‘rehabilitation revolution’ crystallised several favoured policy themes of the coalition government. The speech confirmed the special status that voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) had assumed in governmental thinking about resettling and managing offenders. The proposition that civic-minded volunteers could salvage offenders from lives of crime on a widespread scale was fêted as an idea whose time had come. That appeal resonated with the Big Society project, which promulgated the idea that civil society could play an important, and sometimes more successful, role than the state in tackling entrenched social problems, including crime (Norman, 2010). Within this paradigm, it is claimed that properly trained members of the community and even former lawbreakers are singularly well placed to help offenders to turn their lives around where the prisons and probation system are deemed to have failed (Carter, 2003; Le Grand, 2007). However, underlying the appeal to socially responsible citizenship was the more sombre warning that discharging offenders back to homelessness, social isolation or substance addiction without help would perpetuate their reoffending, to the eventual cost of public safety:

Solving these problems requires a radically different approach. Our central objective is to make the public safer by breaking the cycle of crime. (Ministry of Justice, 2010: 7, s15)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Voluntary Sector and Criminal Justice
EditorsAnthea Hucklesby, Mary Corcoran
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-37067-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-57862-7
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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