First Advisor

Don C. Gibbons

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Criminology, Crime and age, Recidivists, Middle age



Physical Description

3, ix, 229 leaves 28 cm.


This study was designed to investigate mid-life desistance from crime as a function of general mid-life change. Adult developmental theory postulates that major occupational or lifestyle changes occur during mid-life, more so than during other developmental periods in adulthood. Such changes are said to occur in conjunction with specific transitional processes experienced by the middle-aged male. The abandonment of a criminal career at mid-life is viewed as a significant occupational and lifestyle change. It is examined in relation to the postulated transitional processes affecting aspects of the life areas of work and social relationships, as well as health and psychological well-being. Structured interviews were conducted with a small group of former career criminals and a small group of currently imprisoned middle-aged career offenders. Career offenders were compared with middle-age general population men, and former career offenders were compared with imprisoned career offenders. Limitations of the research design and the sampling methods are also discussed. The findings suggest that middle-aged career offenders, regardless of whether they have terminated their criminal careers or are still imprisoned, in large part resemble general population men in terms of mid-life concerns. A comparative analysis of ex-offender and inmate responses suggests that while the men resemble each other closely in the area of mid-life concerns, successful change away from a criminal career at mid-life means that mid-life developmental tasks must be accompanied by relatively well-developed social relationships and the ability to gain control of drug and alcohol problems.


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Portland State University. School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Persistent Identifier