U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Desistance for a Long-Term Drug-Involved Sample of Adult Offenders: The Importance of Identity Transformation

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2016 Pages: 164-186
Date Published
February 2016
23 pages
Using a mixed-race sample of male and female drug-involved offenders who were released from prison in the early 1990s and re-interviewed in 2009 through 2011, this study represents perhaps the first attempt to determine the utility of the identity theory of desistance (ITD) in explaining desistance in a contemporary cohort of adult drug-involved offenders.

Supporting the ITD, interview narratives revealed that the vast majority of offenders who successfully desisted from crime and substance misuse had first transformed their offender identity into a non-offender identity. Although partnership and employment did not appear to be significant turning points per se for the majority of respondents, rekindling relationships with extended family and finding living-wage employment did serve to solidify new prosocial identities once the transformation had occurred. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: February 1, 2016