• Room 01.024 - Sociology and Social Work

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Imprisonment Criminological Psychology Penal Reform Reducing Reoffending and Desistance Social Media Crimes


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Imprisonment, effects of imprisonment, prison-based parenting programmes, penal reform, penal policy, desistance, reintegration, conflict, criminological psychology and social media related crimes. 

Research Statement

My research background is in criminological psychology and imprisonment. Criminological psychology involves understanding why people engage in crime, how society reacts to and manages criminal behaviour and how individuals begin to leave behind a criminal career. In recent years, I have been involved in investigating the outcomes people experience in prison, penal policy and prison-based parenting programmes. Additionally, I have examined the experiences of those with complex needs, how the imprisonment of parents/caregivers may affect children and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the challenges involved in dealing with social media related crimes. I have also been involved in projects assessing how a history of conflict may affect penal reform, desistance and reintegration.  

I have supervised a number of PhD students and would encourage prospective PhD students to contact me to discuss their proposals.

Current PhD Students

Sinead Meade – Effects of prison work in the Irish Prison Service.

Keira Flanagan - The potential effects of educational and vocational programmes on the desistance process in imprisoned young people.

Karen Johnson - Developing a measure of desistance self-narrative.

Mark Williams - The detection and prevention of inappropriate and criminal behaviour on social media.

Abdullah Al Habsi - A cross-national study of WhatsApp users in Oman: Motivations for self-disclosure and risk of blackmail.

Past PhD Students

Aimee Muirhead - Behind Closed Doors: A study of cell-sharing, wellbeing and coping in prison.

Shane Bell - Doing desistance in divided neighbourhoods: The role of conflict affected neighbourhoods.

Lauren Hogg – The impact of state intervention on the work of community-based restorative justice projects in Northern Ireland.

Annemarie Millar - Policing incidents of domestic abuse involving children: Children's and police officers' experience.

Julie Harris - Initiations and transitions to and from injecting drug use and heroin use.


Introducing Criminology (CRM1001)

Punishment, Penal Policy and Prison (CRM3001)

Psychological Perspectives on Crime (CRM3005)


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Research Output

  • Deaths in prison custody: A scoping review of the experiences of staff and bereaved relatives

    Roulston, A., McKeaveney, C., Anderson, M., McCloskey, P. & Butler, M., 16 Jun 2020, (Accepted) In : British Journal of Social Work.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Prison Gangs

    Dias, C., Slade, G. & Butler, M., 01 Jul 2020, (Accepted) Prisons and Community Corrections Critical Issues and Emerging Controversies. Birch, P. & Sicard, L. (eds.). London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • Using Specialised Prison Units to Manage Violent Extremists: Lessons from Northern Ireland

    Butler, M., Apr 2020, In : Terrorism and Political Violence. 32, 3, p. 539-557 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    146 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 3 Downloads (Pure)


    KU Leuven Research Council (External organisation)

    Michelle Butler (Reviewer)

    2020 → …

    Activity: Membership typesMembership of peer review panel or committee

    Criminal Justice and Behavior (Journal)

    Michelle Butler (Peer reviewer)

    2020 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

    Journal of Criminal Justice (Journal)

    Michelle Butler (Peer reviewer)

    2020 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

    External Examiner PhD Transfer

    Michelle Butler (Examiner)

    Jul 2020

    Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

    Press / Media


    Behind the Door: A Study of Cell-Sharing, Wellbeing and Coping in Prison

    Author: Muirhead, A., Dec 2019

    Supervisor: Butler, M. (Supervisor) & Davidson, G. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Doing desistance in divided neighbourhoods : the role of conflict-affected neighbourhoods in the desistance process during reintegration

    Author: Bell, S., Dec 2019

    Supervisor: Lawther, C. (Supervisor) & Butler, M. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Policing Incidents of Domestic Abuse Involving Children: Children’s and Police Officers’ Experiences

    Author: Millar, A., 2019

    Supervisor: Butler, M. (Supervisor), Devaney, J. (Supervisor), Serisier, T. (Supervisor), Butler, M. (Supervisor) & Corr, M. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy