The Dynamics of Desistance and Prisoner Reentry: Findings From a 10-Year Follow-Up of the Oxford University 'Dynamics of Recidivism' Study

Thomas P. LeBel, University at Albany
Christopher A. Kierkus, University at Albany
Ros Burnett, University of Oxford
Shawn D. Bushway, University of Maryland at College Park

In the early 1990s, researchers at the University of Oxford Centre for Criminological Research designed a two-year longitudinal study that concentrated on the detailed accounts of 130 male property offenders (with between 3 and 14 prior convictions) as they progressed from imprisonment to reentry in the community. The current research will utilize the first two waves of this study that took place in prison shortly before their discharge date and then four to six months later (where 99 of the men were re-interviewed) to examine how returning prisoners' self-perceptions of their needs, risks, and strengths can help to predict recidivism over a ten-year follow-up period. In addition to questions about their social situations (jobs, housing, relationships), participants were asked about their aspirations and expectations and perceived stumbling blocks to desistance from further offending. Specific questions were aimed at yielding information about their criminal intentions, what issues they saw as relevant to their offending or non-offending, and what problems and prospects they faced. Variables corresponding to a variety of theoretical perspectives (e.g. agentic themes and attachment/commitment to conventional society) will be utilized to predict recidivism and desistance from crime using several statistical techniques (e.g. logistic regression, survival analysis, and an analysis of changing rates of offending over time).

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Updated 05/20/2006