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  • Writer's pictureCrime in Latin America

“Stop it with Mommy and Daddy!” Analyzing How Accounts of People in Prison Change with Their Trajectory in Argentinean Penal Institutions

Updated: Apr 12

The relationship between adverse childhood experiences and criminality has been amply explored in criminology and the social sciences. A plethora of scholarly theories has focused on the impact of abandonment by one’s parents, among other events, in the development of criminal careers. Originating in the Global North, where it has been much promoted, this hypothesis has turned into a doxa overriding the need to account for sociocultural contexts. Drawing upon narrative criminology, this paper analyses how the life stories of people in prison change with their institutional trajectories, being shaped by official penal discourses. Based on the analysis of 30 life stories with inmates in Argentinean prisons, this paper argues that prison narratives guide explanations of crime towards family dynamics and, consequently, decontextualize life histories. Nonetheless, interviewees contested mainstream expert theories – while skillfully using them to navigate the system – as a response to the attempted institutional alienation of their biographies. In contesting dominant theories, participants are resisting not just local prison culture but also transnational colonial networks of knowledge production. Revisiting dominant frameworks that mechanically take for granted the impact of childhood experiences constitutes a path of inquiry that contributes to an understanding of prison narratives.

“Stop it with Mommy and Daddy!” Analyzing How Accounts of People in Prison Change with The
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