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Emerging Findings and Policy Implications From the Pathways to Desistance Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2012
4 pages
This fact sheet from the National Juvenile Justice Network presents findings and policy implications from the Pathways to Desistance study.
This fact sheet presents findings and policy implications from the Pathways to Desistance study, a large, multi-State project that follows over 1,300 serious young offenders ages 14-18 for 7 years after their convictions. A majority of the youth in the study had multiple prior court cases and had just received a conviction for a serious charge, usually a felony. Four major findings from the study along with implications for policy are presented in the fact sheet. Finding 1, youth in trouble with the law vary considerably and their future development or illegal behavior cannot be determined from their present offense means that policies about program eligibility should not be based on criteria related to the current offense. Finding 2, substance abuse issues can significantly increase the risk of future arrests for youth, with the presence of treatment often reducing the risk of recidivism indicates that provides should increase substance services to young offenders both in the community and within institutions. Finding 3, placing youth in an institution has no effect on their rate of re-arrest indicates that youth should be placed in institutional settings for shorter durations and should receive an increased level of community-based services. Finding 4, youth who are provided with a more positive institutional experience have better outcomes means that States should promote procedures, policies, and assessment tools that regularly review whether justice-involved youth are receiving services in institutions that are matched to their needs. Notes