Desisting from Crime: Continuity and Change in Long-term Crime Patterns of Serious Chronic Offenders
This groundbreaking study examines patterns of offending among persistent juvenile offenders. The authors address questions that have been the focus of criminological debate over the last two decades. Are there are multiple groups of offenders in the population with distinct age-crime patterns? Are between-person differences in criminal offending patterns stable throughout the offender's life? Is there a relationship between offending at one time and at a subsequent time of life, after time-stable differences in criminal propensity are controlled? Ezell and Cohen address these issues by examining three large, separately drawn samples of serious youthful offenders from California. Each sample was tracked over a long time-period, and sophisticated statistical models were used to test eight empirical hypotheses drawn from three major theories of crime: population heterogeneity, state dependence, and dual taxonomy. Each of these three perspectives offers different predictionsabout the relationship between age and crime, and the possibility of crime desistance over the life of serious chronic offenders. Despite the serious chronic criminality among the sample offenders, by the time they reached their mid- to late twenties and continuing into their thirties, each of the six latent classes of offender identified by the study had begun to demonstrate a declining number of arrests. This finding has profound implications for penal policies that impose life sentenceson multiple offenders, such as the Californian 'three strikes and you're out' which incarcerates inmates for 25 years to life with their 'third strike' conviction, at precisely the point when they have begun to grow out of serious crime.
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Empirical Research Review and Hypotheses
The California Youth Authority
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6-class model adolescent-limited adulthood age and crime age of onset age parameters age-crime curve age-squared analyses arrest charges arrest rate arrest trajectories average number beta distribution Brame Bushway California Youth Authority cent commitment controlling for persistent criminal propensity Criminology delinquent dependence effects gamma distribution Gottfredson and Hirschi hypothesis incarcerated indicator variables juvenile latent class indicator life-course-persistent likelihood ratio test longitudinal mixed Poisson model mixture model Moffitt Nagin and Land Nagin and Paternoster negative binomial model number of arrest observed offender group offender population offending rate offending trajectories overdispersion p-value parametric random effects parole past and subsequent Paternoster 1999 persistent individual differences Piquero points of support Poisson regression population heterogeneity random effects model relationship between age results presented Sampson and Laub semiparametric mixed Poisson semiparametric model serious youthful offenders significant social specific statistical subsequent criminal activity substantive t-statistic Table theory three samples trend controls unobserved heterogeneity wards