This white paper examines a practitioner view of desistance concepts from a practical implementation standpoint.
Academic criminologists have increasingly challenged the criminal justice system to pivot from a focus on recidivism to a focus on desistance. However, implementation of desistance concepts in criminal justice practice has lagged. This white paper examines a practitioner view of desistance concepts from a practical implementation standpoint and provides a basic overview of the theories of mechanisms of desistance and attempts to describe them in a practical way. The paper also discusses some of the issues in operationalizing desistance and provides examples of operational definitions of desistance that criminal justice practitioners can use. The paper moves even more from theory to practice and discusses desistance-focused interventions. Finally, it briefly discusses some limitations of desistance as a criminal justice metric, including obstacles for adopting desistance in a politically driven system and in day-to-day practice.