This report presents the rationale, methodology, and findings for the Pathways to Desistance Study (the “Pathways Study”), which is a multisite, collaborative study that followed 1,354 serious juvenile offenders from adolescence to young adulthood, in order to identify patterns in how serious adolescent offenders desist from antisocial behavior; determine the role of social context and developmental changes in promoting positive change; and compare the effects of sanctions and interventions in promoting these changes.
Findings indicate that desistance from crime has occurred among the youth studied. As a whole, the sample has moved from more frequent and varied crimes to committing crimes less often of a less serious nature. Not all of the offenders with reduced rates of arrest quit offending (Some self-reported continued offending); however, the general pattern was a reduction in both self-reported offending and arrests. Analyses thus far have identified at least two factors that are apparently related to later offending patterns and outcome, i.e., substance use and intra-psychic change (shifts in attitude about offending and the legal system, as well as gains in psychosocial maturity). This suggests the importance of developing methods that accelerate mature thinking about what youth want in life and how to achieve it. Suggestions are offered on how to promote interventions that address these two factors linked to outcomes for serious adolescent offenders. The study began data collection in November 2000 and completed the last follow-up interview in April 2010. The study baseline and follow-up interviews addressed six domains: indicators of individual functioning, psychosocial development and attitudes, family context, personal relationships, community context, and a monthly account of changes in multiple domains. The monthly data permit an analysis of the nature, number, and timing of important changes in life circumstances. More detail about the Pathways study design, methods, and measures can be found on the study Web site (www.pathwaysstudy.pitt.edu.). Tables and references
Date Published: November 1, 2013