The Consequences of Crime for Relatives of Serious Offenders
by Rachel Condry
Portland, OR: Willan Publishing, 2007
In her introductory chapter, Condry states that while research has frequently explored the effect of crime on its victims, little investigation has focused on the influence that crime has on the lives of the offenders’ families. Utilizing an ethnographic framework, including in-depth interviews with 32 relatives of serious offenders, Condry offers a thorough account of the myriad tribulations relatives go through when a family member commits a serious criminal offense. Though the research addresses a very specific problem that most individuals will never face, it is nonetheless an interesting exploration into the effects of criminal behavior on the family dynamic.
From a psychological point of view, this book does a good job of showing the different stages that family members go through when a close relation commits a heinous crime. From recalling life before the crime to the recognition that society now views them as a part of the problem, the research allows the reader insight into the shame that often accompanies a relative’s criminal behavior. It gives the reader a feeling for the actual consequences of a crime committed by a family member, and how life qualitatively changes after the crime has taken place. From dealing with the stigma that society places on them to depression and thoughts of suicide, the interviewees illustrate the toll that the assumed culpability for another’s actions has had on their lives.
Though the text offers an insightful view into the lives of the criminals’ relatives, the real contribution of the book is the discussion of the self-help movement that has taken shape over the past fifty years. For those reading the book with an eye towards understanding their own dilemma, this section offers guidance in dealing with the trauma associated with being related to a serious offender. If nothing else, reading about the experiences of others and how they dealt with their situation may be helpful for individuals in similar circumstances. Again, this is not necessarily an addition to the field of criminology, but helpful to those in a comparable position.
Overall, while interesting to see the effects of crime from a psychological point of view, the applicability of the research to the field of criminology is minimal. However, the book is an interesting read, lending a view often ignored when discussing criminality and its effects on the family.
|PATRICK N. McGRAIN