Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Submitted to the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences, Technological University of Dublin, in partial fulfilment of the requirements leading to the award of MA in Criminology.


The therapeutic community (TC) is predominantly used for the treatment of substance users. Its approach, which focuses on a strong sense of community, relies on the peer group itself as an agent of change. In one Irish TC, desistance from crime appears to be an unintended outcome of the social processes and cultural forces existing there. The current study utilises qualitative data collected from a small cohort of seven male therapeutic community graduates. All participants had histories of involvement in serious crime and had desisted to varying degrees. Using a figuarational approach, concerned with social processes, analysis of the data revealed that disruptions within family figurations played a significant role in the route into crime, and in some cases, the path to desistence. Crime and drugs seem to be entangled in such a way that desistance and recovery appear only to be attainable in tandem. Habitus is shown to have a considerable impact on an individual's ability to successfully navigate their way through a therapeutic community. For those with the required dispositions and skillsets, therapeutic communities provide a unique platform for the development of human interdependencies, which are shown to be predictors of routes out of crime. The implications of this study are significant for those entrapped in the drug-crime nexus, social care professionals working in drug treatment settings, and policymakers concerned with incarceration, reintegration, and desistance. The study emphasises the importance of understanding routes in and out of crime in terms of human interdependencies and the significant impact they have on these pathways.