Most people engage in crime at some point in their lives, but why does almost everybody stop soon after? And, why do a small number of offenders persist in crime? These two questions constitute the core of the field often known as life-course criminology. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to life-course criminology. It covers the dominant theories and methodologies in the field and equips you with all you need to succeed in your studies on the subject. The book: • Discusses the methodologies of life-course and longitudinal research • Explains and critiques the major theories of life-course criminology • Considers the issues of risk, prediction, onset, persistence and desistance of criminal activity • Draws on research from studies in Europe, the UK, US and Australia, including the Stockholm Life-Course Project Written by two leading figures in the field, this is an authoritative text that will guide you through your studies in life-course criminology, criminal career research, and developmental criminology.
Chapter 8: Desistance from Crime
Desistance from Crime
The term criminal desistance means, quite simply, that an individual who has previously engaged in crime, ceases to do so. Once again, however, as we have seen when it comes to onset and persistence – two concepts that, in theory, look pretty nice and simple – desistance as a concept comes with a set of complications, contradictions, and choices that need to be made by the empirical researcher who considers using it.
In contemporary life-course criminology, the research field of desistance has been given much attention, perhaps because it deals with something that is both highly relevant from a policy-maker’s perspective, as well as empirically and theoretically challenging for researchers.
When people who, once they have started, stop committing acts ...