A Theoretical and Empirical Examination of Female and Male Desistance From General Delinquency

Elaine Gunnison, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Paul Mazerolle, The University of Queensland

Over the past hundred years, many criminological theories have emerged seeking to explain criminal behavior. Unfortunately, most of the early theorists focused on examining male offending rather than female criminal behavior. Within the past decade, life course criminological theories have emerged that address both male and female offending patterns. A unique aspect of life course criminology is its emphasis on the criminal career framework. According to the criminal career approach, desistence is a significant aspect of offending cateers to explore empirically when examining the life-course of deviant individuals. However, patterns of desistence have been largely ignored in criminological research. The little empirical research that has been conducted on desistance from criminality has focused primarioy on males. Therefore, little is known about female desistance patterns and whether there are gender differences in the factors associated with desistance. Using data from the National Youth Survey, this investigation advances previous research by examining female and male desistance patterns from general delinquency. The theoretical, research, and policy implications of this research will be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006