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Title: Young people : the experience of transition from custody to community
Author: Fairfull, Alexandra
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2013
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The following three chapters aim to explore the process of individual transition from prison to the community. In the United States of America (U.S) the transition from prison to the community is called re-entry. The term describes the process of leaving prison and returning to the community. Re-entry is not a form of supervision or legal status and all prisoners, other than those who never leave prison, experience re-entry. The body of research addressing offender re-entry in the U.S has been steadily increasing over the last ten years (Arditti & Parkman, 2011; Petersilia & Travis, 2001; Visher & Travis, 2003). Much of the early literature focused on recidivism in adults (Langan & Levin, 2002; Tracy & Kempf-Leonard, 1996) but there has been an increase in attention on longitudinal studies that aim to understand the processes involved in reintegration. This research addresses individual change in relation to desistance in the U.S (Bushway et al., 2001; Laub & Sampson, 2001). There is less research on adult re-entry in the United Kingdom (U.K) possibly due to lower rates of imprisonment compared to the U.S. Differences between the U.S and U.K justice systems mean it is difficult to generalise research findings relating to individual experience across continents. Only a handful of studies focus on young people’s re-entry in the U.K (Meek, 2007; Barry, 2010; Champion & Clare, 2006) and there is none that tries to understand the experience of transition from juvenile custodial services to community youth justice services for young people. The following three chapters aim to contribute to this area of research. Each of the chapters is presented as a standalone component that adds to this shared area of research. The three components summarised below are as follows: firstly a systematic review of all the current published research aims to understand the experience of re-entry for all age-groups; secondly a qualitative empirical paper explores the meaning and impact of transition for young people; finally a concluding discussion extends the dialogue about the empirical research findings. It also provides a lay summary of the empirical study for young people and presents a future research proposal which would extend the empirical research. Chapter 1 presents a systematic review addressing the question: what is the experience of transition from custody to community for young people? Due to the limited research exploring young people’s re-entry, literature addressing the adult re-entry experience was included in this review. After initial scoping of several research databases, three were searched following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews) statement guidelines (Moher et al., 2009). A total of 835 studies were initially retrieved, of which 10 articles met the inclusion criteria. A narrative synthesis of their findings is presented. The literature suggests several common themes that are important in understanding the meaning and impact of transition from custody to the community. These include social components, such as accommodation and interpersonal relationships and psychological components, such as identity and coping skills. The literature acknowledges that there are differences between adults and young people experiencing re-entry, possibly related to developmental stages (Abrams, 2007; Arditti & Parkman, 2011). This may have implications for services offering support for young people and requires further research. This systematic review has been written in accordance with submission guidelines for publication in the journal of ‘Psychology, Crime and Law’. Chapter 2 extends the research discussed in the systematic review and contributes to the literature concerning young people’s experience of re-entry. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore how young people made sense of their individual transition experience from custody to the community. Findings demonstrate five superordinate themes that are important in the transition. These are: ‘A beginning and ending to prison’, ‘Family and friendship systems of offending’, ‘A new ‘me’ in the community’, ‘Life on the out’ and ‘Justice system supporting and enforcing change’. Findings are consistent with and extend the current literature on young people’s experience of transition from custody to the community. Clinical implications tentatively indicate that the continuity in care provision, family and peer relationships and Licence conditions of release all impact on the transition experience for young people. These dimensions may be useful in considering service development. This empirical paper has been written in accordance with submission guidelines for publication in the journal of ‘Legal and Criminological Psychology’. Chapter 3 provides an extended concluding discussion, providing a detailed discussion of the empirical findings and how they are relevant to theory, research and practice. A short lay summary of the empirical paper is also presented. This is for the benefit of young people making the transition from custody to community. Given that previous research indicates that this group of people is often marginalised (Barry, 2010); it was considered ethically responsible to develop a summary that was accessible and validating of young people’s experience. Therefore, a version is also presented in a short leaflet and a podcast recording of the summary aims to improve accessibility of the information for people with a range of literacy abilities. The podcast recording will not be published on-line until the empirical research has been published. The end of this chapter presents a proposal for future research, based on the empirical paper’s extended discussion and conclusions. In contributing to the research on young people’s experience of re-entry in the U.K, it is hoped that the meaning and impact of transition for this often marginalised group of people will be acknowledged.
Supervisor: McGuire, James; Harper, Ben Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare