So what kind of hope may be involved here? Crime fiction often likes the idea that an offender re-offends in the hope that they may be caught and stopped from continuing their destructive spree. There can be some truth in this for some people. For some desperate folk, the hope to be caught and imprisoned can be more simply explained – they need an asylum. For them,life in the community is frightening, lonely, and associated with cold and hunger, whilst life in prison provides warmth, food, company and a secure sense of identity. At its heart, though, the hope I am talking about is the hope that offending will make something different, will change a hopeless situation. It can be hope that someone will recognise a terrible internal world that the offender is unable to communicate in any other way. For some , to desist from offending (recover from addiction, depression etc) raises a deep seated fear that they will, once ‘better’, be ignored, left in lonely isolation, with no purpose in their life. It is the equivalent of children who feel they have to misbehave to be noticed. Such hope then may be disordered or selfish but it is an energy that can open the door to future change.
If offending is therefore just treated as a failure of work with that offender, and the work broken off and left to others, this can reflect a failure of the worker to ‘survive’, to retain the hope and sensitivity that can recognise that part of what has happened that shows an energy in the offender for things to be different. If the worker can survive and be in touch with this energy, new opportunities for a better future can open up.