Research on Young Adult Offenders
There are clear benefits in preparing young adults who are in prison for their release; personal
development, a reduction in criminal behaviour andsocietal harm. Young adults aged 18-24 years are a distinct group with specific needs, though they are technically adults, most are only transitioning towards adulthood and full maturity (Lösel, Bottoms and Farrington, 2012). As a group they are significantly overrepresented within the criminal justice system, with many persistent offenders who have spent considerable time in prison. They also have histories of poly drug use, family difficulties and a failure to reintegrate into society. This is also the time when many will begin the process of desisting from crime. There is, thus, a growing interest in this group of offenders, both nationally and internationally, and a growing awareness that their specific needs must be catered for (Barrow Cadbury Commission, 2005; Lösel, Bottoms and Farrington (eds), 2012). For example, the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service is now specifically targeting this group of prisoners through risk assessments which will inform sentence management for young people in custody aged 18-24 years (http://www.irishprisons.ie/index.php/prisoner-services/psychology-service/).
The proposed research will give a voice to these young adult offenders by conducting in-depth interviews with young adults who have been released from prison within the last six months. The purpose of the interviews is to learn more about their experiences of imprisonment and their support needs (Shapland, Bottoms and Muir, 2012), and so develop more effective interventions that reduce offending and with it, the social and economic impact of crime.
This research is funded by the Irish Research Council.