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

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2011
4 pages
Publication Series
This study discusses serious adolescent offenders and their lives in late adolescence and early adulthood.
Findings show a decrease in self-reported offending over time by the 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. Most youth who commit felonies greatly reduce their offending over time regardless of the intervention. Longer stays in juvenile institutions do not reduce recidivism and institutional placement may even raise offending levels in those with the lowest level of offending; in the period after incarceration, community-based supervision is effective for youth who have committed serious offenses; and substance abuse treatment reduces both substance use and criminal offending for a limited time. Only a small proportion of the offenders studied continued to offend at a high level throughout the follow-up period. Finally, substance use is a major factor in continued criminal activity by serious adolescent offenders. Substance abuse treatment for young offenders reduces both substance use and nondrug-related offending in the short term, if the treatment period is long enough and if families take part in the treatment with the offender. 1 figure, 2 notes, and 7 references

Date Published: March 1, 2011