Restorative Practices with Male Youth Probationers in Custody and Their Impact on Desistance in Singapore


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

View graph of relations


Awarding Institution
Award date8 Sep 2022


Studies on desistance have predominately focused on systemic and individual-subjective factors to understand why and how youth offenders desist. More recently, research has highlighted the importance of relational factors and how they impact the offender’s desistance process. Building on existing literature, this study uses a relational perspective (critical realist relational sociology) to explore how restorative practices (RP) impact the desistance process of male youth offenders in custody. Using a case study approach, this research will examine the extent to which restorative practices (RP) in a youth rehabilitation institution aid desistance and the extent to which probationers’ informal and formal social support systems assist desistance. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse responses from 45 respondents. Twelve of these respondents were male youth probationers, and the other respondents comprised of their support system which consisted of sixteen residential staff, seven probation officers, and ten parents or caregivers from seven families. Of the twelve youth, seven were categorised as ‘desisters’, three as ‘preparers’ and two as ‘persisters’ for this study. Data was collected from March 2021 to December 2021 through direct observations, and semi-structured interviews conducted online and in person.

Analysis of the data showed that a caring and relaxing restorative climate in custody could promote individual reflexivity to desist. While a restorative institution could facilitate desistance, the data revealed that the key to maintaining desistance was a youth’s relationship with his parents/caregiver. Familial relationships could contribute to both desistance or persistence of crime. As such, it is vital to support families as a form of social capital for youth to desist during and beyond probation. The findings from this research also provided insights into how relational factors contributed to youth desistance and how in-custody services for youth probationers supported the maintenance of desistance.