Interviewing offenders

The active versus inmate debate

Authored by: Heith Copes , Scott Jacques , Andy Hochstetler , Timothy Dickinson

The Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Criminology

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415659703
eBook ISBN: 9780203074701
Adobe ISBN: 9781135114947


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Criminologists have a long history of interviewing those engaged in illegal behaviors to gain insights into the nature of crime and criminality (Bennett, 1981). Ethnographic interviews give offenders the opportunity to explain their offenses and lifestyles from their own perspectives. This glimpse into offenders’ worlds facilitates theoretical explanations of criminal behavior and provides valuable data to policymakers. Indeed, few would argue against the idea that posing open-ended questions to offenders is important for a full understanding of crime and criminality.

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