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Some Cognitive Transformations about the Dynamics of Desistance

NCJ Number
Criminology and Public Policy Volume: 21 Issue: 4 Dated: 2022 Pages: 787-809
Date Published
23 pages

This study assessing the role of cognitive transformations in the process of desistance from crime concludes that policies and programs centered on correction of cognitive deficits are likely in effectiveness.


This article explores the role of cognitive transformations in the process of desistance from crime and concludes that individualistic policies and programs centered on cognitive deficits requiring correction are likely to be limited in their effectiveness. The discussion describes changes to ideas about the sequencing of various types of cognitive shifts, suggests the importance of emotional processes in tandem with changes in perspective, and highlights the need to move out of the comfort zone of crime itself when thinking about redefinitions that support desistance. Yet, a consistent notion remains that social and broader structural factors are deeply implicated—directly and indirectly—in all aspects of the change process. This includes the important area of “derailments” from a pattern of forward progress, where additional processual research is needed. Based on the authors’ own and others’ subsequent research, some aspects of the authors’ initial theorizing warrant revisiting and adjustment. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2022