Punishment as text

Netanel Dagan*, Adiel Zimran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Punishment is often performed through judicial texts. Narrative criminology scholarship, however, has paid little attention to how criminalised people engage with these texts when constructing their self-narratives. To fill this gap, based on qualitative findings from formerly incarcerated people in Israel, this paper aimed to theorise their engagement with their sentencing remarks (SR). We found that they experienced their SR as text that held communicative, transformative and physical dimensions. The findings showed that SR impacted criminalised persons by individualising the penal dialogue, transforming their identity, and serving as objects for performing rituals during their imprisonment and upon release. The findings contribute to an understanding of the connection between judicial work and incarcerated people's desistance and identity-making processes through the textual bridge of SR.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1293-1311
Number of pages19
JournalPunishment and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • desistance
  • identity-making
  • narrative criminology
  • penal communication
  • ritual
  • sentencing remarks
  • text


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