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Digital disputation: John Todd-Kvam

John Todd-Kvam at Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law will be defending the thesis; Understanding desistance and penality in Norway: discourses, practices and experiences for the degree of Ph.D.

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John Todd-Kvam

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The disputation will be digital and streamed directly using Zoom. You can download zoom or use your browser.

Participate at the disputation HERE

Information around the Trial lecture

Adjudication committee

  • Professor Heidi Mork Lomell, University of Oslo (leader) 
  • Professor Rosemary Ricciardelli, Memorial University of Newfoundland (1. opponent)
  • Lecturer Jake Phillips, Sheffield Hallam University (2. opponent)

Chair of defence

Vice dean Vibeke Blaker Strand 


  • Professor Thomas Ugelvik 
  • Professor Fergus McNeill


The journey out of crime in Norway
How do people experience the process of trying to move away from crime in Norway? Research on this process (termed desistance from crime) has advanced greatly in recent years through a focus on how change works.  This PhD project is a qualitative, multi-level study of political discourse, reintegration and resettlement practice, and lived experience. By ‘zooming in’ from political discourse through practice to desister experience, the project provides insight into the context in which the journey away from crime takes place as well as the lived experience of the process itself.  

This project makes a number of key contributions, including the first use of discourse analysis to show how Norwegian politicians frame themselves and those subject to the justice system.  

Unpaid debt to society
Perhaps one of the project’s most important contributions is shedding light on so-called ‘punishment debt’.  The imposition and enforcement of significant and long-term debt on those convicted of crime raises important questions about when punishment really ends in Norway?  Whilst prison sentences might be somewhat shorter than in other countries, ‘punishment debt’ can be experienced as inescapable and leading to long-term feeling of being at least halfway outside society. 

Probation in the spotlight
The project also puts a spotlight on the work of probation in Norway, an institution that has long fallen in the shadow of prisons – be it in terms of media, political or researcher attention.  Probation caseworkers placed an emphasis on constructive relationships with their clients, though highlighted that reintegration into society is difficult.  They put this down to lack of human and social capital and the challenges of navigating an increasingly remote and bureaucratic welfare system.

A long road
Finally, the project also provides an account of desistance in Norway as long-term and unfinalised, showing that the collateral damage of trauma, drug addiction and punishment is significant, leading in some cases to an extended experience of marginalisation.

Published Apr. 19, 2021 4:35 PM - Last modified Mar. 16, 2022 6:07 PM