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Desistance from Terrorism: What Can We Learn from Criminology?


In recent years an increasing number of researchers have observed that there are far fewer studies of how terrorism ends than how it begins. In criminology the issue of how crime ends has been shaped by discussions of desistance, the prolonged or permanent cessation of criminal behavior. We begin this essay with a brief review of research on desistance in criminology, considering first the conceptual challenges of desistance research and then reviewing major theoretical frameworks and empirical findings from criminology that might help inform an understanding of desistance from terrorism. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of desistance research in criminology for research on terrorism at the individual and group level and identify several objectives for such a research agenda.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

LaFree, Gary, and Erin Miller. 2008. "Desistance from Terrorism: What Can We Learn from Criminology?" Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict 1 (November): 203-230. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17467580902718130

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