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Interest in the study of desistance has increased dramatically since the 1970s and 1980s and has become the focus of much criminal justice policy, practice and research. Strong evidence suggests that individuals with a history of difficulties at school and low levels of educational attainment are more likely to offend, continue offending and become entangled in the criminal justice system. However, vast numbers of children continue to fall through the cracks of mainstream education in Ireland every year. The principal aim of this study is to investigate the role of alternative education provision (AEP) in supporting pathways out of crime for young people. Furthermore, the following components are explored: key desistance theories, influential factors which impact on young people’s desistance from offending, links between education and desistance and the manner in which AEP facilitates (or not) the development of elements conducive to young people moving away from offending. An extensive review of the literature was conducted and the perceived impact and personal experiences of past pupils of AEP were explored using a qualitative research approach. Findings that emerged from the study indicate that, through the development of psychosocial competencies, practical skills and positive relationships, most participants were supported by AEP in their transitions away from a potential life of crime. Through a sense of belonging, individual needs being met, the development of interpersonal relationships, the provision of a potential platform for change in self-identity and the development of resiliency in terms of the impact of life events, the value of AEP, as described by all participants, extended far beyond the classroom.
Fagan, B. (2016) Investigating the role of alternative education provision in supporting pathways out of crime for young people. Masters dissertation, September 2016.