Highlights From Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders

The Pathways to Desistance Study is a large collaborative, multidisciplinary project that is following 1,354 serious juvenile offenders ages 14–18 (184 females and 1,170 males) for 7 years after their conviction. This study has collected the most comprehensive data set currently available about serious adolescent offenders and their lives in late adolescence and early adulthood. It looks at the factors that lead youth who have committed serious offenses to continue or desist from offending, including individual maturation, life changes, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

The primary findings of the study to date deal with the decrease in self-reported offending over time by most serious adolescent offenders, the relative inefficacy of longer juvenile incarcerations in decreasing recidivism, the effectiveness of community-based supervision as a component of aftercare for incarcerated youth, and the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment in reducing both substance use and offending by serious adolescent offenders.