Laurence Steinberg, Elizabeth Cauffman, and Kathryn C. Monahan | US Department of Justice – Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Bulletin | March 2015
The Pathways to Desistance study followed more than 1,300 serious juvenile offenders for 7 years after their conviction. In this bulletin, the authors present key findings on the link between psychosocial maturity and desistance from crime in the males in the Pathways sample as they transition from midadolescence to early adulthood (ages 14–25):
- Recent research indicates that youth experience protracted maturation, into their midtwenties, of brain systems responsible for self-regulation. This has stimulated interest in measuring young offenders’ psychosocial maturity into early adulthood.
- Youth whose antisocial behavior persisted into early adulthood were found to have lower levels of psychosocial maturity in adolescence and deficits in their development of maturity (i.e., arrested development) compared with other antisocial youth.
- The vast majority of juvenile offenders, even those who commit serious crimes, grow out of antisocial activity as they transition to adulthood. Most juvenile offending is, in fact, limited to adolescence.
- This study suggests that the process of maturing out of crime is linked to the process of maturing more generally, including the development of impulse control and future orientation.