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The experiences of young offenders (aged 18–21) on protection in an Irish prison: using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)

Suzanne Hughes (Department of Counselling Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Timothy James Trimble (Department of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Anne O’Rourke (Adult Mental Health, St James’ Hospital Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 22 February 2021

Issue publication date: 21 July 2021

389

Abstract

Purpose

Young offenders are disproportionately represented in the Irish Prison Service (IPS) and are a population with complex needs and highest risk of re-offending. Subsets of young offenders in IPS are placed on Protection for their own and/or other’s safety. There is limited research regarding the experiences of young offenders, and there is none on the subjective experiences of young offenders on Protection that could be identified. This study aims to address a limitation of a previous study on the experiences of young offenders in an Irish prison (Hughes et al., 2017) by providing insight into experiences of young offenders on Protection in Mountjoy Prison.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a non-experimental, qualitative, semi-structured interview design, a purposive sampling method was used, and six young offenders participated. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim with potentially identifiable information removed to ensure anonymity. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was applied to interpret the data.

Findings

Two superordinate themes provided an overview of the young offender’s experiences of Protection in an Irish prison: ‘Social Order on Protection’ and ‘Adjustment on Protection’.

Research limitations/implications

Even though it is a relatively small sample size, this study contributes to existing literature and considers sentence management and clinical implications.

Originality/value

This study helps to address a gap in literature by providing insight into the overall experiences of young male offenders (aged 18–21) on Protection in an Irish prison. The findings are in line with most researches, which highlight additional negative consequences of “restrictive prisons regimes” such as Protection. This study provides information to prisons for the development of best practice guidelines and better sentence management and delivery of services to young offenders on Protection.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the young offenders who participated in the study, the IPS, Governors and Prison Staff of Mountjoy Prison for facilitating the research.

Citation

Hughes, S., Trimble, T.J. and O’Rourke, A. (2021), "The experiences of young offenders (aged 18–21) on protection in an Irish prison: using an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 85-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-04-2020-0015

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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