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I am not my crime is a podcast series that aims to challenge stigmatising attitudes towards people who have a criminal record. This podcast series was inspired by some of the findings from my own PhD research which examined the willingness of employers to hire a job applicant with a criminal record. My research explored whether employers believe that someone who has engaged in offending behaviour is redeemable – that is, they are able to change and desist from crime – also, what clues they look for to assess whether or not someone has desisted from crime and how these beliefs and clues influence their hiring decisions.

One of the main findings is that those who believe that people are redeemable regardless of how serious their offending past is, are far more willing to hire than those who have low beliefs about redeemability. Furthermore, while the majority agree that change is possible, the difference between employers rating from low vs high in beliefs about redeemability is that those with low beliefs are pessimistic about the probability of redemption. The implication of this finding is that pessimistic attitudes held by employers could present as an added barrier to ex-offenders who want to find a job and therefore these attitudes need to be challenged.

One way to challenge stigmatising attitudes is by hearing stories from those who are often stereotyped in order to challenge broadly held and inaccurate/unhelpful stereotypes, like ‘once an offender, always an offender’. Stories are powerful because often they illuminate parts of the person that do not fit with the stereotypes that others hold about them. This counter-stereotypic information can then influence a shift in stigmatising attitudes.

Sharing the findings of my research with employers and the broader public though was going to be a bit of a challenge as neither are very likely to read a published journal article. For this reason, it was necessary to use a more innovative strategy to engage this my primary audience. That’s when the idea for this podcast, I am not my crime, transpired.

The podcast features a number of individuals who tell the story of the crime they committed, what led to the crime, how they spent their time in prison and where they are now. Each episode concludes with some empirically informed comments to provide further insight to listeners about any themes raised in the episode, or further challenge misperceptions held about crime and those who commit crime.

I am not my crime aims to tell the good news stories that people can and will change, and to challenge people to think differently. A second goal is to promote the idea that reintegration is everyone’s business. It cannot be achieved by the individual themselves because opportunities for things like getting a job depend on the decisions of others like employers being willing to give someone a second chance.

To listen to the I am not my crime podcast, go to the podcast link at the top of this page.

Thanks for listening and feel free to drop me a line if you have any thoughts you think you might like to tell your story in a future season.

Please share the podcast with others too, it’s time to change the conversation!

Dr Suzanne Reich (@ReichSuz on Twitter)
Program Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Senior Lecturer (Criminology and Criminal Justice)
School of Law and Justice | Q404B
E: Suzanne.Reich@usq.edu.au