This executive summary details a white paper that provides an overview of the mechanisms underlying the process of desistance from crime among juveniles and adults.
The association between age and crime is one of the most established facts in the field of criminology. It is generally agreed that aggregate crime rates peak in late adolescence/early adulthood (ages 18-21) and gradually drop thereafter. Although most adult offenders also offended during adolescence, most juvenile offenders do not persist in crime in adulthood. This white paper provides an overview of the mechanisms underlying the process of desistance from crime among juveniles and adults. It describes the known correlates of desistance from crime as well as the features associated with continued involvement in crime. This paper also examines the implications for criminal justice interventions and agencies — including law enforcement, courts, supervision, correctional facilities, and reintegration efforts — and offers nine key recommendations on desistance-promoting criminal justice policy and practice.