Murray State Theses and Dissertations


Approximately 650,000 offenders are being released from prison or jail per year in the USA. After incarceration, released offenders encounter a myriad of challenges that prohibit successful transition into the community. Research has focused on the risk factors that contribute to recidivism – relapse into criminal activity, with limited focus on protective factors that contribute to desistance from criminal activity. Existing research has relied on several theories to hypothesize and explain the causes of desistance, with research suggesting that individual subjective factors and social factors are essential to the desistance process. This study was therefore guided by two theories – the Ecological Systems Theory and the Transtheoretical Model, to identify protective and resilience factors that are responsible for desistance. Results from study showed that internal factors such as readiness to change and identity transformation, as well as social support and participation in rehabilitation services are essential to the desistance process of offenders. Findings are relevant for intervention strategies and policy changes.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

Desistance, released offenders, offenders, protective factors, reentry

Thesis Advisor

Esther Malm

Committee Chair

Katy Hancock

Committee Member

Tracey Garcia-McCue

Committee Member

Laura Liljequist

Document Type


Available for download on Tuesday, July 12, 2022