Desistance from Sexual Offending: A Policy and Research Agenda Whose Time Has Come

Patrick Lussier, Danielle A Harris, Anne-Marie McAlinden

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

4 Citations (Scopus)
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For the past three decades or so, criminal justice policies have been enacted under the assumption that individuals who have been convicted of a sex offense are life course persistent sex offenders. In that context, research has been heavily focused on the assessment of risk and the prediction of sexual recidivism.Simultaneously, little to no attention has been given to the majority of individuals convicted of sex offenses who are not arrested or convicted again.Researchers have witnessed a growing gap between scientific knowledge and the sociolegal response to sexual violence and abuse. The current legal landscapecarries important social implications and significant life course impact for a growing number of individuals. More recently, theoretical and research breakthroughs in the study of desistance from crime and delinquency have been made that can help shed some light on desistance from sex offending. Desistance research, in the context of sex offending, however, represents serious theoretical, ethical, legal, and methodological challenges. To that end, this article introduces a special issue exploring current themes in desistance research by examining the life course of individuals convicted of a sexual offense while contextualizing their experiences of desistance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Publication statusPublished - 07 Sept 2016


  • criminal justice policy
  • desistance
  • recidivism
  • sexual offending


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