University of Limerick
Quigley_2018_To_Be.pdf (2.46 MB)

To be, or not to be, a criminal; a prospective longitudinal analysis of factors related to criminal desistance in a group of young people

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posted on 2022-12-15, 15:13 authored by Stephen James Quigley
Ceim ar Cheim is a community-based education and training centre, catering for clients of the Probation Service, young offenders and youth at risk. Through a longitudinal methodology, this study aimed to document the early stages of desistance from crime, by qualitatively exploring identity and social control before and after participants’ first year in Ceim ar Cheim. Participants’ disconnection from society was evident. This was exacerbated by bereavement, loss, repeated school breakdowns, incarceration, and reports of Garda violence and harassment. By the end of their first year, more efficacious narrative identities emerged, alongside greater aversion to developing into feared possible selves. Participants developed a deeper bond with Ceim ar Cheim over time, facilitated by the organisations flexibility and ethos of genuine, wholistic engagement. Some participants’ continued drug use and hazardous drinking pose ongoing threats to their desistance. The complex influence of family was apparent; with some family members having a profoundly negative impact on participants’ lives and providing ant-role models, whilst a growing awareness of the pain caused by participants to their families was also evident. Grandparents adopting parenting roles was noted, as was the apparent criminogenic impact of loss and bereavement. Participants outlined desisting impacts of romantic relationships and parenthood. Participants reported that turning eighteen reinforced desistance through the prospect of a blank legal slate and the fear of longer sentences in adult prisons. The study highlights the importance of services for youth at risk and the need to create penal policy which supports their path to desistance.



  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Ryan, Patrick





Department or School

  • Psychology

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