Researchfest 2017 finalist Daragh Bradshaw from University of Limerick explains how his research could transform the Irish prison system.

Science Week

Daragh Bradshaw, a social psychologist based in University of Limerick, has been looking at how imprisonment affects families – specifically, those with fathers who have gone to jail – and how the system can be improved to better support these people.

In Ireland, prison levels are rising, and Bradshaw has found that more than 8,000 children in Ireland can be affected on any given day. He has also found that a father’s imprisonment, in many cases, increases poverty, stigma, mental health difficulties and the likelihood that children will go on to themselves offend. Furthermore, his research tells us that offenders who maintain meaningful connections with families are six times less likely to reoffend, meaning that the proper support for these families could help break a damaging cycle.

Bradshaw’s research – which he presented in just three minutes at Researchfest 2017 – is having a real impact. It has been submitted to the Department of Justice to form the basis of a national policy for supporting offenders and their families.

Words by Elaine Burke