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The Impact of Incarceration on the Desistance Process Among Individuals Who Chronically Engage in Criminal Activity

NCJ Number
301500
Date Published
October 2021
Length
25 pages
Author(s)
Christopher Wildeman
Agencies
NIJ
Annotation

This white paper considers how imprisonment shapes the desistance process for individuals who are chronically criminally active and discusses the implications of these findings for policy, practice, and research.

Abstract

Research shows that imprisonment has few, if any, beneficial effects on criminal activity, except for the period when the individual is in a correctional facility. It also shows that imprisonment has disruptive effects o the life-course of individuals, leading to worse labor market outcomes, more disrupted family lives, and worse health. As a result, it seems reasonable to assume that incarceration impedes the desistance process. Virtually none of the existing research considers how imprisonment affects the desistance process for individuals who chronically engage in criminal activity. This is an important oversight because this is the group of criminally active individuals for whom desistance from crime is most important both for society and for themselves. This paper considers how imprisonment shapes the desistance process for individuals who are chronically criminally active and discusses the implications of these findings for policy, practice, and research.

Date Created: October 18, 2021