Staying Out of Trouble: Intentions of Young Male Offenders


prisoner reentry, attitudes about desistance, self-efficacy, transition to community, behavioral intentions


During the fall of 2005, we interviewed a sample of 103 young men aged 18 to 21 imprisoned at a young offender’s prison in England. Drawing on the theory of planned behavior, as well as the theory of cognitive transformation, our purpose was to investigate prisoners’ reports of their likelihood of reoffending following release from prison. Primary explanatory factors included measures of attitudes, behavioral control, and subjective norms. Attitudes measured inmates’ plans of what they would do following release. Behavioral control variables included indicators of life control and self-efficacy. Subjective norms measured the number of peers inmates reported ever being imprisoned. Prison activities and background characteristics were also modeled. The data were analyzed using regression techniques and structural equation modeling. Intentions to stay out of trouble were most strongly associated with self-efficacy and the number of imprisoned friends reported. Intentions were also associated with the specificity of postrelease plans and life control. Offenders’ feelings of life control were stronger among those who had more frequent contact with family members and friends while in prison. Employment prior to prison and family relationships were predictive of contacts with family and friends in prison. Specific policies consistent with our findings include encouragement of contact with family members and friends. In addition, interventions that help offenders make specific plans and increase feelings of control and self-efficacy have promise in helping released offenders successfully complete the transition from prison to the community.

Original Publication Citation

Forste, Renata, Lynda Clarke, & Stephen Bahr. 2011. “Staying Out of Trouble: Intentions of Young Male Offenders.”International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 55(3):430-444

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminilogy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor