IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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How and why people stop offending: discovering desistance

3rd May 2012

Given that reducing crime is one of the central aims of the criminal justice system, and given that the majority of people who commit crime eventually cease, understanding how and why people desist from crime is of central importance in achieving this important goal.

Leading researchers in the area of desistance have recently published a report which highlights important practices and principles that can underpin a more effective justice system. We need to re-imagine our criminal justice practices; however, we also need to rethink our criminal justice processes and institutions. The report finds that the most successful pathways to desistance and reintegration require wide engagement with communities, families, civic society and the state itself. Successful rehabilitation can be achieved by working with offenders, rather than simply on them. 

The evidence presented in this desistance study shows not only how we can better rehabilitate prisoners, but how we can rehabilitate our prisons. By employing the processes and practices detailed here, prisons can play an integral role in building safer societies. 

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