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date: 20 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Although it has received comparatively little research attention, the phenomenon of desistance from sexual offending is just as inevitable as the process of desistance from general crime. This article reviews the current state of knowledge regarding how and why men convicted of sexual offenses come to deescalate or desist from such behaviors. Next, it describes the relevant theoretical explanations of desistance and behavioral change that have emerged from both criminology and psychology. Finally, desistance is discussed in light of the impact of current public policies and recently enacted sex offender–specific legislation. Areas for future empirical research and public policy are highlighted.

Keywords: desistance, sexual offending, public policy, criminology, psychology

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