Offending and offence patterns in the early stages of desistance

A study of young men in England

Authored by: Joanna Shapland , Anthony Bottoms

The Routledge International Handbook of Life-Course Criminology

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138813663
eBook ISBN: 9781315747996
Adobe ISBN: 9781317603016


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Desistance is the process of reducing the frequency of commission of crime and, eventually stopping 1 – though, as several researchers have commented, it is not possible to know whether someone has completely desisted until they die. We emphasise the idea of ‘reducing frequency’ because it is now well established that, at least among relatively persistent offenders, desistance is normally a gradual rather than a sudden process; only rarely do would-be desisters stop offending immediately, even after what have been described as important ‘turning points’ (Sampson and Laub 1993) in their lives, such as entering into a marriage or partnership, or gaining stable employment. Thus, the study of offending frequency, rather than a simple binary measure of reoffending, is essential for meaningful research on desistance.

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