Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling

First Advisor

Dr. Debra Harley


There is an overrepresentation of youths with disabilities in the juvenile justice system. As a result, each year thousands of juvenile offenders despite of the seriousness of the crimes committed, are released from incarceration with the hopes of living a successful life in society. Despite progressive research on identifying factors associated with desistance, it is still unclear what factors contribute to desistance for serious juvenile offenders and especially those with disabilities. The current study investigated the individual differences (e.g., moral disengagement, motivation to succeed and impulse control) and social factors (e.g., employment, education and maternal warmth) that are important in the process of desistance for serious juvenile offenders. The sample of 14 to 17-year-old male and female offenders (N =1354) was composed primarily of ethnically marginalized youths who have committed serious offenses. Results of the study indicated that both social and individual factors are significant predictors of desistance from crime. However, varied significance was found as it relates to Aggressive, Income Offending and desistance. Results obtained are applicable to scholarship across multiple disciplines, as well as inform policy, practice and future research on desistance from crime. Limitations of the study were also stated.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)