The aims of the larger Pathways to Desistance project were to identify initial patterns of how serious adolescent offenders stop antisocial activity, to describe the role of social context and developmental changes in promoting these positive changes, and to compare the effects of sanctions and interventions in promoting these changes. The larger goals were to improve decision-making by court and social service personnel and to clarify policy debates about alternatives for serious adolescent offenders. The study relied primarily on self-report information from study participants.
Main study participants were enrolled into the study between November 2000 through January 2003 following an adjudication in the juvenile or adult court systems in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (N=654) and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (N=700).
For the main study participant, a baseline interview was conducted within 75 days of the youth's adjudication hearing. For youths in the adult system, the baseline interview was conducted within 90 days of either (a) the decertification hearing in Philadelphia, a hearing at which it is determined if the case will remain in adult court or if it will be sent back to juvenile court; or (b) the adult arraignment hearing in Phoenix, the point in the Arizona adult system at which charges have been formally presented.
Follow-up interviews were conducted with the main study participant every six months for the first three years of the study and annually thereafter through seven years. Collateral informants were interviewed at baseline and annually through the first three years.
Six potential cities/counties were investigated for potential selection before Phoenix and Philadelphia were finalized. These two areas were selected due to containing (a) high enough rates of serious crime committed by juveniles; (b) a diverse racial/ethnic mix of potential participants; (c) a sizable enough number of female offenders; (d) a contrast in the way the systems operate; (e) political support for the study and cooperation from the practitioners in the juvenile and criminal justice systems; and (f) the presence of experienced research collaborators to oversee the data collection.
Youth were selected for potential enrollment after a review of court files in each locale revealed that they had been adjudicated (found guilty) of a serious offense. Eligible crimes included all felony offenses with the exception of less serious property crimes, as well as misdemeanor weapons offenses and misdemeanor sexual assault.
Drug offenses constitute a large proportion of all offenses committed by youth. And males comprise the vast majority of youth who are charged with drug offenses. Therefore the study instituted a capped proportion of males with drug offenses to 15 percent of the sample at each site.
All females who met the age and adjudicated crime requirements, or any youth whose case was being considered for trial in the adult court system, were eligible for enrollment regardless of whether the charged crime was a drug offense.
Main study participants are youths 14-19 years of age from the juvenile and adult court systems in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania from November 2000 to April 2003. Collateral informants are individuals nominated by the main study participant.
The majority of the data files contain the same repeating variables across the four waves of data collection. Please consult the User Guide for more details and a further description of the contents of each file.
Additional information about the scales is available on the Constructs page of the Pathways to Desistance Web site.