A Longitudinal, Mixed-Method Study of the Identity Theory of Desistance
Scott, Thomas Lind
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Recently, Paternoster and Bushway (2009) developed the Identity Theory of Desistance to explain how once criminal offenders transform their identities and reform. In an effort to test important components of this theory, the current study analyzed retrospective narratives from 144 substance-involved, male offenders from Delaware. After coding the narratives for mention of concepts from the identity theory and other theories of desistance, the author conducted time-based and age-based group-based trajectory models and multinomial logistic regression analyses to test whether the identity theory could explain criminal desistance. Results suggest that many offenders undergo these processes, and there may be experiences that distinguish those who desist from those who persist in crime and drug use. These include the formation of hoped-for selves, a change in preferences, social networks, and routine activities, motivation to change, and treatment.