U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

The Effects of Age at Prison Release on Women's Desistance Trajectories: a Mixed-Method Analysis

NCJ Number
Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology Volume: 2 Issue: 3 Dated: 2016 Pages: 341-370
Date Published
30 pages
This study measured the effect that age has on women's gendered prisoner reentry experiences and the likelihood of desisting from crime and substance abuse, and it examined the applicability of Paternoster and Bushway's (2009) Identity Theory of Desistance (ITD) for a contemporary, all-female sample.

In order to create group-based offending trajectory models, this mixed-methods study analyzed official arrest data for 218 women released from Delaware prisons in the mid-1990s. A representative subsample of 118 women were interviewed between 2009 and 2011 and asked to conceptualize the mechanisms that led to their desistance or persistence in offending. Multinomial logistic regression analyses found that for some of the sample, age at the time of release from prison had a positive effect on the likelihood that women will compose a desisting trajectory group rather than the most deviant reference group. Interview narratives indicate that in navigating the post-incarceration gendered experiences of securing employment, family reunification, and substance abuse recovery, maturity, clarity about one's personal responsibility for linked failures, and a desire to transform one's identity were significant factors that preceded the capacity to excel in those reentry domains. These findings support the applicability of ITD to women's desistance experiences. Since older women apparently have a reentry goal orientation that diverges from that of their younger counterparts, gender-responsive rehabilitation agendas should include programming that increases the likelihood that participants will identify failures sooner, so that the prosocial benefits of a healthy identity change can be realized early in the reentry period. 1 table and 43 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2016