Coercion and Social Exclusion: The Case of Motivating Change in Drug-Using Offenders

Published 15/03/2006
Type Article
Author(s) Richard Lynch
Corresponding Authors Richard Lynch, Sheffield Hallam University

Drug-using offenders have come to be a special focus for policy concerns within community justice. A more punitive penal climate and narrow conception of social exclusion may have created a policy environment that undermines the growth of treatment opportunities now available. The emphasis upon coercion in community justice treatment responses is questioned as it may inadvertently aggravate broader pressures towards custody within the sentencing climate. Since such penal environments aggravate factors associated with social exclusion it is argued that this may undermine rather than enhance individual motivation for change. Research evidence on drug treatment is examined and a case study from probation practice described. The complexities of both suggest that the current policy direction may need to do more to provide treatment when needed and enhance social networks rather than coerce change. This would complement rather than undermine approaches to practice that build on factors related to desistance and the existing resilience found in drug users’ lives.