National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Highlights From Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders

Mulvey, E. P.
Paper/Research Report
Year Published: 2011
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
U.S. Department of Justice

The Pathways to Desistance Study is a large collaborative, multidisciplinary project that is following 1,354 serious juvenile offenders ages 14-18 (184 females and 1,170 males) for 7 years after their conviction. According to this author, the study has collected the most comprehensive data set currently available about serious adolescent offenders and their lives in late adolescence and early adulthood. The research looks at the factors that lead youth who have committed serious offenses to continue or desist from offending, including individual maturation, life changes, and involvement with the criminal justice system. In this brief, the author highlights four key findings that have emerged to date: (1) most youth who commit felonies greatly reduce their offending over time, (2) longer stays in juvenile institutions do not reduce recidivism, (3) community-based supervision as a component of aftercare is effective for youth who have committed serious offenses, and (4) substance abuse treatment reduces both substance use and criminal offending for a limited time.

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