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Structuration, Human Development and Desistance From Crime

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 39 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 1999 Pages: 253-268
Stephen Farrall; Benjamin Bowling
Date Published
16 pages
Understanding how and why offenders stop committing offenses is crucial to the development of effective crime prevention and criminal justice practices, yet desistance has been the subject of little empirical research and has been relatively neglected by theory.
The authors attempt to move beyond existing approaches to desistance that are limited by a tendency to focus on either aspects of human agency, such as decision making, or aspects of social structure, such as employment status and family responsibilities. Drawing on structuration and human development theories and an examination of existing research on the termination of criminal careers, the authors work toward an integrated theory of desistance. Empirical data from a study of 34 criminal life histories are used to illustrate the potential of a theory that combines an analysis of individual decisions and structural constraints. The authors conclude that desistance can be explained in terms of individual decision making and life changes and that changes in the relative level and nature of individual power offer a new avenue of research on desistance. 76 references