Research on Pathways to Desistance [Maricopa County, AZ and Philadelphia County, PA]: Subject Measures, 2000-2010 (ICPSR 29961)

Version Date: Mar 14, 2016 View help for published

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Edward P. Mulvey, University of Pittsburgh


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Pathways to Desistance (Subjects)

The Pathways to Desistance study was a multi-site study that followed 1,354 serious juvenile offenders from adolescence to young adulthood in two locales between the years 2000 and 2010. Enrolled into the study were adjudicated youths from the juvenile and adult court systems in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (N=654) and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (N=700).

Respondents were enrolled and baseline interviews conducted from November 2000 to January 2003. Follow-up interviews were then scheduled with the respondents at 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60, 72 and 84 months past their baseline interview.

The enrolled youth were at least 14 years old and under 18 years old at the time of their committing offense and were found guilty of a serious offense (predominantly felonies, with a few exceptions for some misdemeanor property offenses, sexual assault, or weapons offenses).

The 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.

The aims of the investigation 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 of the Pathways to Desistance study 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.

Each wave of data collection covered six domains: (1) background characteristics (e.g., demographics, academic achievement, psychiatric diagnoses, offense history, neurological functioning, psychopathy, personality), (2) indicators of individual functioning (e.g., work and school status and performance, substance abuse, mental disorder, antisocial behavior), (3) psychosocial development and attitudes (e.g., impulse control, susceptibility to peer influence, perceptions of opportunity, perceptions of procedural justice, moral disengagement), (4) family context (e.g., household composition, quality of family relationships), (5) personal relationships (e.g., quality of romantic relationships and friendships, peer delinquency, contacts with caring adults), and (6) community context (e.g., neighborhood conditions, personal capital, and community involvement). Information about the measures used to capture this information can be found on the Pathways to Desistance website.

Mulvey, Edward P. Research on Pathways to Desistance [Maricopa County, AZ and Philadelphia County, PA]: Subject Measures, 2000-2010. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-03-14.

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Arizona Governor's Justice Commission (JBISA01224400), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (2001-J05-011944, 2002-J04-13032, 2003-J04-14560, 2004-J04-15849, 2005-J04-17071, 2006-J04-18272), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (043357), United States Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA019697 01 - 05), United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (1999-IJ-CX-0053, 2008-IJ-CX-0023), United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2000-MU-MU-0007, 2005-JK-FX-K001, 2007-MU-FX-0002), William Penn Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation (99-2009-099)

Users are reminded that these data are to be used solely for statistical analysis and reporting of aggregated information, and not for the investigation of specific individuals or organizations.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2000 -- 2010
2000-11 -- 2003-01 (Baseline), 2001-05 -- 2003-08 (6-month Follow-up), 2001-08 -- 2004-03 (12-month Follow-up), 2002-05 -- 2004-09 (18-month Follow-up), 2002-11 -- 2005-02 (24-month Follow-up), 2003-05 -- 2005-09 (30--month Follow-up), 2003-11 -- 2006-04 (36-month Follow-up), 2004-12 -- 2007-04 (48-month Follow-up), 2005-11 -- 2008-03 (60-month Follow-up), 2006-11 -- 2009-02 (72-month Follow-up), 2007-11 -- 2010-03 (84-month Follow-up)
  1. More information about this study is available on the Pathways to Desistance Web site.

  2. Other contributors to the Pathways to Desistance study:

    • Carol A. Schubert, University of Pittsburgh (Study Director)
    • Laurie Chassin, Ph.D., Arizona State University (Co-Investigator)
    • George P. Knight, Ph.D., Arizona State University (Co-Investigator)
    • Sandra Losoya, Ph.D., Arizona State University (Site Coordinator)
    • Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., Temple University (Co-Investigator)
    • Robert Brame, Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Charlotte
    • Elizabeth Cauffman, Ph.D., University of California-Irvine (Co-Investigator)
    • Jeffrey Fagan, Ph.D., Columbia University
    • Alex Piquero, Ph.D., Florida State University
  3. The baseline file's section for offense history, which was self-reported, has been masked for confidentiality reasons. However, the section does include two variables (age at first arrest and number of arrests) merged from the official records that were obtained as part of the larger Pathways project. The complete official records data will be released by ICPSR at a later date.

  4. Other measures were taken to protect the confidentiality of the respondents. A list of the steps taken is included in the front of each PDF codebook.

  5. Each datafile contains approximately 45 to 50 sections or groups of variables. These groups are listed in the PDF codebooks as bookmarks. In the front of each codebook is a crosswalk listing these groups to show which sections were repeated across time. Most of the variables in a group are the same in a subsequent wave's group. The variable names are the same with the exception of the first two characters which designate what wave the variable belongs to: S0 for the baseline file; S1 for the 6 month follow-up; S2 for the 12 month follow-up; and so forth.


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 if the charged crime was a drug offense.

Longitudinal: Panel

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.


During the enrollment period (November 2000 to January 2003) 10,461 individuals who met the age and petitioned charge criteria were processed in the court systems in Philadelphia and Phoenix. In 5,382 of the these cases (51 percent) the youth was found not guilty or had the charges reduced below a felony-level offense at adjudication. Another 1,272 cases were dropped (12 percent) from consideration because the court data were insufficient to determine the person's eligibility status at adjudication.

Of the remaining 3,807 eligible cases 1,799 (47 percent) were excluded from consideration due to potential case overload of the local interviewer or the 15 percent threshhold of drug offenders was close to being breached.

This resulted in 2,008 youths who were approached for inclusion into the study. Of those youths who were approached 1,354 consented and participated (67 percent).

Over the course of the 7-year follow-up period, there were 864 respondents (63.8 percent) were located and interviewed for 10 of 10 possible interviews. An additional 309 youths (22.8 percent) were located and interviewed for 8 or 9 out of 10 possible interviews. Conversely, there were 17 (1.3 percent) respondents who didn't participate in any additional surveys and another 22 (1.6 percent) who only were located and and interviewed for just 1 or 2 follow-up of the 10 possible follow-up interviews. These numbers do not adjust for 91 participants who either died (n=48) or refused continued participation (n=43) of the study over the course of the 7-year follow-up period.

Overall the study was able to achieve an average of 89.5 percent for each follow-up interview.

This study used over 50 different scales. More detailed information about the scales is available on the Constructs page of the Pathways to Desistance Web site.



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Mulvey, Edward P. Research on Pathways to Desistance [Maricopa County, AZ and Philadelphia County, PA]: Subject Measures, 2000-2010. ICPSR29961-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-01-07.

2016-03-14 Updated variables labels for parts 2 through 11

2013-01-07 Added parts 2 through 11 which contain the data files for the 10 follow-up interviews that took place.

2012-08-20 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


This study is maintained and distributed by the National Addiction & HIV Data Archive Program (NAHDAP). NAHDAP is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).