- Joanna Shapland
- and Anthony Bottoms
Most of those who offend, even those who offend persistently, stop committing offences as they grow older. The process of stopping to commit crime—desistance—is affected by people’s own decisions, attitudes, and self-identity but also by their social context and by relationships with people close to them. In this chapter, we explore theories of how desistance occurs, in terms of the individuals themselves, their own agency, and social structures and relationships. The research evidence from around the world on what affects desistance is then examined. Finally, we consider how the criminal justice system may affect desistance through the effect of criminal records and opportunities for rehabilitation. Because social context is important, pathways to desistance can also vary according to gender and cultural background (e.g., the importance of family differs in different cultures).