It is increasingly recognised that a significant proportion of young people involved in the criminal justice system have suffered significant loss through bereavement. However, despite its significance, loss and bereavement needs have not been accommodated sufficiently in existing practices and guidelines before and after the prison stage of the criminal process. To investigate these issues, Keele criminologist Dr Mary Corcoran will be working with a multi-disciplinary research group on a research project funded by the Barrow-Cadbury Trust.
The research group involves colleagues with expertise in healthcare, law and medical ethics and their collaborative project will integrate and unite criminal justice practitioners, voluntary, statutory and academic institutions to address the gap in support needs around loss and bereavement of young adults in custody and the community.
Mary has explained that the research is intended to help in a number of practical ways:
Firstly, we hope that the outcomes of this project will make a significant difference to young adults who are bereaved and who are currently not offered the structured and sufficient support they need, unless they are in prison.
The results will also help to put the issue of the bereavement needs of young adults in the criminal justice system at the forefront of practitioners’ thinking. We believe that such recognition will speak to practitioners’ experiences.
We will be devising tools that will provide them with a structured and accessible framework to support bereaved young adults before and during the resettlement phase of their sentence, and even to divert them from the custody system.
In the longer term, the research has the potential to influence policy makers within an agenda of promoting offenders’ health and well-being.