Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Jeffrey M. Jenson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kimberly Bender

Third Advisor

Daniel S. Brisson

Fourth Advisor

Carrie Pettus-Davis


Criminal justice, Incarceration, Person-in-environment, Recidivism, Reentry, Termination


The high rate of recidivism in the over 600,000 individuals who return from incarceration each year is an important social problem facing U.S. society and the criminal justice system. Efforts undertaken so far early in the 21st century to address the problem of recidivism in the formerly incarcerated, particularly prison reentry programs, have produced disappointing results at reducing the rate of recidivism. Therefore, there is a need to identify new ways for prison reentry programs to reduce recidivism among individuals recently returned from prison, and social work with its person-in-environment perspective can make an important contribution through conducting research to understand the behavior change process that facilitates termination from crime. Explanations for how individuals terminate from crime are dominated by either a structural perspective or a subjective perspective, but new research has identified a third school of thought, the structural-subjective perspective, that attempts to create an integrated theory from both structural and subjective theories of crime termination. The purpose of the current study was to contribute to the literature on crime termination and the structural-subjective perspective by exploring the nature of the relationship between structural factors, subjective factors, and crime termination in a sample of adolescents with serious criminal backgrounds. Secondary data from the Pathways to Desistance study, a longitudinal study that followed youth convicted of serious crimes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Phoenix, Arizona for seven years, was analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling to answer the research questions. The method of multisample analysis within structural equation modeling was also used to examine significant relationships for invariance across race and socioeconomic status. Results found support for an inverse relationship between the latent measure Pro-Social Orientation and Self-Reported Offending. In addition, greater levels of Social Capital were found to increase Pro-Social Orientation, which in turn decreased criminal behavior three-years later. Implications and recommendations for how social workers and prison reentry programs can help to intervene at the structural level and develop social capital in order to increase the likelihood of success among the formerly incarcerated is discussed.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Christopher Alvin Veeh

File size

136 p.

File format





Social work, Criminology