Change begins with a crisis: Desistance among drug-involved offenders



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In order to best explain criminality, researchers need to be able to explain the full criminal career. This entails explaining onset, duration and patterning, and termination. The latter, termination, is the study of the process of desistance, which has received less attention than other aspects of the criminal career. However, because most individuals start on the side of conformity, and will eventually return, the study of desistance is much-warranted. The purpose of this study was to examine desistance among a specific sub-set of the offending population, drug-involved offenders. Drug-involved offenders have a high likelihood of developing long criminal careers and the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in the criminal justice system is one of the most pressing criminal justice issues. The goal of this study was to identify the internal, external and drug-related variables that were associated with desistance. As part of the Texas Study of Trajectories, Associations, and Reentry, or the LoneStar Project, data were collected from 802 male offenders. Independent variables were gathered before release and 9 months after release (wave 3) in order to examine if predictors of desistance appear before release or after offenders spend a significant time in the community. Results from survival analyses indicated that the best predictors of desistance were the static factors of age and criminal history, although marriage, peers, and drug-related variables did play a role, albeit less consistent one. A discussion of the results, policy implications, and limitations are presented.



Desistance, Drug-Involved, Internal factors, External factors, Survival analysis