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The Pathways to Desistance study grew out of the planning efforts of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice . The study was part of a broader agenda of the Network to provide juvenile justice professionals and policy makers with empirical information that could be applied to improve practice, particularly regarding the topics of competence and culpability, risk assessment, and amenability of juvenile offenders.

Network activities provided the initial forum for conceptualizing and planning this study. Additional funding from an array of both federal and private agencies supported data collection and other study activities.

Improving juvenile court decision making requires information about how serious adolescent offenders desist from antisocial activity. A systematic research agenda on this topic requires consideration of several processes, including normative development in late adolescence, what constitutes desistance, and the factors likely to promote the end of involvement in antisocial behavior and successful adjustment in early adulthood. Study investigators present an overview of the major points to consider in pursing this research agenda in the following article:

Mulvey, E.P. Steinberg, L., Fagan, J., Cauffman, E., Piquero, A.R., Chassin, L., Knight, G.P., Brame, R., Schubert, C.A., Hecker, T, Losoya, S.H. (2004). Theory and Research on Desistance from Antisocial Activity Among Serious Adolescent Offenders. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 2(3), 213-236.