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Desistance from Crime over the Life Course

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
35 pages
Findings and methodology are reported for a study that examined the life circumstances and criminal behavior of 479 men and women in South Carolina who were enrolled in a multi-site reentry program before prison release in 2004-2005.
The study updated information on current status across multiple domains, including housing, employment, and substance use; additional recidivism data to examine long-term offending patterns; and information on factors study participants viewed as associated with their decision to desist from further criminal activity. The study found that recidivism, measured as at least one new arrest, occurred for 90 percent of the sample. On average, individuals had about seven arrests, with an average of 11 charges since their release from prison. Interview results indicate the individuals were somewhat less likely to be working in 2016-2017 than they were immediately following their release 10 years ago. They were more likely to report drug use and having engaged in criminal behavior compared to 3-15 months following their release. Eighteen percent of the sample were incarcerated at the time of this study (2016-2017). Common reasons stated for not committing crimes included the deterrent effect of incarceration, consideration for children and family, changes in the way they perceive crime, a change in lifestyle, employment, religion, and sobriety. Circumstances more likely to encourage criminal behavior were financial or employment issues, drug and alcohol use, stressful events, and antisocial peers. Criminal history indicators were the strongest predictors of recidivism, along with educational level, with those less educated at higher risk of recidivism. The study's methodology is described. 10 exhibits, 17 references, and appended supplementary data

Date Published: September 1, 2018