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International Perspectives and Lessons Learned on Desistance (Executive Summary)

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2021

This executive summary presents a white paper that examines desistance from an international perspective.


Since the mid-1990s, there has been a sustained research effort in many countries to further knowledge about why people stop offending. This white paper focuses on international interventions that have been initiated to foster desistance. It first discusses how desistance has been defined and operationalized, and reviews the main associates and correlates of desistance. The paper then critiques many criminal justice systems’ desistance-promoting elements and presents the lessons learned from various countries that have pursued such policies. Finally, it notes some of the interventions that appear likely to support and promote desistance. It also provides suggestions for how colleagues working in the United States might develop these ideals into workable policies and practices.

Date Published: November 1, 2021