Desistance from crime can generally be considered to constitute a transition from a state of offending to one of non-offending, along with the underlying processes that support this transition. This dissertation examines the process of pro-social components by which young adults ‘desist’ from crime. It does so by presenting insights on desistance gained from semi-structured interviews with ex-offenders and those who work with them at a community-based boxing club. This primary research is presented in the context of the existing literature that establishes desistance as a process influenced by the interaction of social factors.
The results of this study show that young adults desisting from crime are motivated by the values that arise from the community-based boxing club. Key factors of desistance identified in this study include the influence and value of social capital, trust, identity and purpose. Desistance from crime was the result of pro-social relationships aiding the transition towards a positive identity, away from a criminogenic lifestyle. It is therefore argued that desistance is more likely to be sustained with persistent, positive social support.
Rather than being completely rational actors, this research found the young adults desisting from crime to be influenced by a combination of pro-social factors. The ultimate recommendation is to enhance existing policy and ensure opportunities are developed for young adults to participate in community-based activities (e.g. sport) to motivate the individual in the process of building pro-social relationships away from criminogenic environments of the Criminal Justice System (CJS).
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