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Online ISSN: 1745-9125


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Arrest Trajectories Across a 17-Year Span for Young Men: Relation to Dual Taxonomies and Self-Reported Offense Trajectories
  • Article

December 2007


51 Reads


Deborah M Capaldi


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of different operationalizations of offending behavior on the identified trajectories of offending, and to relate findings to hypothesized dual taxonomy models. Prior research with 203 young men from the Oregon Youth Study identified six offender pathways, based on self-report data (Wiesner and Capaldi, 2003). The present study used official records data (number of arrests) for the same sample. Semiparametric group-based modeling indicated three distinctive arrest trajectories: high-level chronics, low-level chronics, and rare offenders. Both chronic arrest trajectory groups were characterized by relatively equal rates of early onset offenders, thus indicating some divergence from hypothesized dual taxonomies. Overall, this study demonstrated limited convergence of trajectory findings across official records versus self-report measures of offending behavior.

Destination Effects: Residential Mobility and Trajectories of Adolescent Violence in a Stratified Metropolis

August 2010


104 Reads

Two landmark policy interventions to improve the lives of youth through neighborhood mobility-the Gautreaux program in Chicago and the Moving to Opportunity experiments in five cities-have produced conflicting results and created a puzzle with broad implications: Do residential moves between neighborhoods increase or decrease violence, or both? To address this question we analyze data from a subsample of adolescents ages 9-12 from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a longitudinal study of children and their families that began in Chicago, the site of the original Gautreaux program and one of the MTO experiments. We propose a dynamic modeling strategy to separate the effects of residential moving over three waves of the study from dimensions of neighborhood change and metropolitan location. The results reveal countervailing effects of mobility on trajectories of violence: Whereas neighborhood moves within Chicago lead to an elevated risk of violence, moves outside of the city reduce violent offending and exposure to violence. The gap in violence between movers within and outside Chicago is explained not only by the racial and economic composition of the destination neighborhoods, but the quality of school contexts, adolescents' perceived control over their new environment, and fear. These findings highlight the need to consider simultaneously residential mobility, mechanisms of neighborhood change, and the wider geography of structural opportunity.

Delinquency And The Structure Of Adolescent Peer Groups

February 2011


279 Reads

Gangs and group-level processes were once central phenomena for criminological theory and research. By the mid-1970's, however, gang research was primarily displaced by studies of individual behavior using randomized self-report surveys, a shift that also removed groups from the theoretical foreground. In this project, we return to the group level to test competing theoretical claims about delinquent group structure. We use network-based clustering methods to identify 897 friendship groups in two ninth grade cohorts of 27 Pennsylvania and Iowa schools. We then relate group-level measures of delinquency and drinking to network measures of group size, friendship reciprocity, transitivity, structural cohesion, stability, average popularity, and network centrality. We find significant negative correlations between group delinquency and all of our network measures, suggesting that delinquent groups are less solidary and less central to school networks than non-delinquent groups. Further analyses, however, reveal that these correlations are primarily explained by other group characteristics, such as gender composition and socioeconomic status. Drinking behaviors, on the other hand, show net positive associations with most of the network measures, suggesting that drinking groups have higher status and are more internally cohesive than non-drinking groups. Our findings shed light on a longstanding criminological debate by suggesting that any structural differences between delinquent and non-delinquent groups may be attributable to other attributes coincidental with delinquency. In contrast, drinking groups appear to provide peer contexts of greater social capital and cohesion.

Adolescent romance and delinquency: A further exploration of hirschi's "cold and brittle" relationships hypothesis

November 2010


231 Reads

Hirschi argued that delinquent youth tend to form relatively "cold and brittle" relationships with peers, depicting these youths as deficient in their attachments to others. The current analysis explores connections between delinquency and the character of adolescent romantic ties, drawing primarily on the first wave of the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study, and focusing on 957 teens with dating experience. We examine multiple relationship qualities/dynamics in order to explore both the "cold" and "brittle" dimensions of Hirschi's hypothesis. Regarding the "cold" assumption, results suggest that delinquency is not related to perceived importance of the romantic relationship, level of intimate self-disclosure or feelings of romantic love, and more delinquent youth actually report more frequent contact with their romantic partners. Analyses focused on two dimensions tapping the "brittle" description indicate that while durations of a focal relationship do not differ according to level of respondent delinquency, more delinquent youths report higher levels of verbal conflict.

Table 2 . Descriptive Statistics for Union Timing, by Adolescent Violent Victimization: Means (Standard Errors) and t Tests a,b 
Table 4 . Continued 
Adolescent Violent Victimization and Precocious Union Formation
  • Article
  • Full-text available

November 2012


55 Reads

This article bridges scholarship in criminology and family sociology by extending arguments about “precocious exits” from adolescence to consider early union formation as a salient outcome of violent victimization for youths. Research indicates that early union formation is associated with several negative outcomes; yet the absence of attention to union formation as a consequence of violent victimization is noteworthy. We address this gap by drawing on life course theory and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to examine the effect of violent victimization (“street” violence) on the timing of first coresidential union formation—differentiating between marriage and cohabitation—in young adulthood. Estimates from Cox proportional hazard models show that adolescent victims of street violence experience higher rates of first union formation, especially marriage, early in the transition to adulthood; however, this effect declines with age, as such unions become more normative. Importantly, the effect of violent victimization on first union timing is robust to controls for nonviolent delinquency, substance abuse, and violent perpetration. We conclude by discussing directions for future research on the association between violent victimization and coresidential unions with an eye toward the implications of such early union formation for desistance. Includes Supplementary Materials.

Romantic Partners' Influence on Men's Likelihood of Arrest in Early Adulthood

June 2008


120 Reads

Female romantic partners' influence on official crime occurrence for men across a 12-year period in early adulthood was examined within a comprehensive dynamic prediction model including both social learning and social control predictors. We hypothesized that relationship stability, rather than attachment to partner, would be associated with reduced likelihood of crime, whereas women's antisocial behavior would be a risk factor, along with deviant peer association. Models were tested on a sample of at-risk men [the Oregon Youth Study (OYS)] using zero-inflated Poisson (ZIP) modeling predicting to 1) arrest persistence (class and count) and 2) arrest onset class. Findings indicated that women's antisocial behavior was predictive of both onset and persistence of arrests for men, and deviant peer association was predictive of persistence. Relationship stability was protective against persistence.

Figure 1: A Social-Schematic Model of Crime
Learning To Be Bad: Adverse Social Conditions, Social Schemas, And Crime

May 2011


1,946 Reads

In this paper we develop and test a new approach to explain the link between social factors and individual offending. We argue that seemingly disparate family, peer, and community conditions lead to crime because the lessons communicated by these events are similar and promote social schemas involving a hostile view of people and relationships, a preference for immediate rewards, and a cynical view of conventional norms. Further, we posit that these three schemas are interconnected and combine to form a criminogenic knowledge structure that gives rise to situational interpretations legitimating criminal behavior. Structural equation modeling with a sample of roughly 700 hundred African American teens provided strong support for the model. The findings indicated that persistent exposure to adverse conditions such as community crime, discrimination, harsh parenting, deviant peers and low neighborhood collective efficacy increased commitment to the three social schemas. The three schemas were highly intercorrelated and combined to form a latent construct that strongly predicted increases in crime. Further, in large measure the effect of the various adverse conditions on increases in crime was indirect through their impact on this latent construct. We discuss the extent to which the social schematic model presented in the paper might be used to integrate concepts and findings from several of the major theories of criminal behavior.

Developmental Patterns Of Alcohol Use In Relation To The Persistence And Desistance Of Serious Violent Offending Among African American And Caucasian Young Men

May 2012


43 Reads

This study examined the association of alcohol use with persistence and desistance of serious violent offending among African American and Caucasian young men from adolescence into emerging adulthood. Five violence groups were defined: nonviolent, late-onsetters, desisters, persisters, and one-time offenders. We examined alcohol use trajectories for these groups from ages 12 through 24/25 using a four-piecewise linear growth model (ages 12-14, 14-18, 18-21, and 21-24/25). The persisters and desisters reported the highest levels of drinking at age 13. From ages 14 through 18, however, the late-onsetters showed a higher rate of increase in drinking, compared to the persisters and desisters. Starting from age 18, the desisters' drinking trajectory started to resemble that of the nonviolent group, who showed the highest rate of increase in drinking during emerging adulthood. By age 24/25 the persisters could not be distinguished from the late-onsetters; but were lower than the nonviolent and one-timer groups in terms of their drinking. At age 24/25, the desisters were not significantly different from the other violence groups, although they appeared most similar to the nonviolent and one-timer groups. There was no evidence that the association between drinking and violence differed for African Americans and Caucasians. The findings suggest that yearly changes in alcohol use could provide important clues for preventing violent offending.

The Code Of The Street And Inmate Violence: Investigating The Salience Of Imported Belief Systems

August 2013


383 Reads

Scholars have long argued that inmate behaviors stem in part from cultural belief systems that they "import" with them into incarcerative settings. Even so, few empirical assessments have tested this argument directly. Drawing on theoretical accounts of one such set of beliefs-the code of the street-and on importation theory, we hypothesize that individuals who adhere more strongly to the street code will be more likely, once incarcerated, to engage in violent behavior and that this effect will be amplified by such incarceration experiences as disciplinary sanctions and gang involvement, as well as the lack of educational programming, religious programming, and family support. We test these hypotheses using unique data that include measures of the street code belief system and incarceration experiences. The results support the argument that the code of the street belief system affects inmate violence and that the effect is more pronounced among inmates who lack family support, experience disciplinary sanctions, and are gang involved. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Race, Code of the Street, and Violent Delinquency: A Multilevel Investigation of Neighborhood Street Culture and Individual Norms of Violence

May 2010


511 Reads

The study outlined in this article drew on Elijah Anderson's (1999) code of the street perspective to examine the impact of neighborhood street culture on violent delinquency. Using data from more than 700 African American adolescents, we examined 1) whether neighborhood street culture predicts adolescent violence above and beyond an adolescent's own street code values and 2) whether neighborhood street culture moderates individual-level street code values on adolescent violence. Consistent with Anderson's hypotheses, neighborhood street culture significantly predicts violent delinquency independent of individual-level street code effects. Additionally, neighborhood street culture moderates individual-level street code values on violence in neighborhoods where the street culture is widespread. In particular, the effect of street code values on violence is enhanced in neighborhoods where the street culture is endorsed widely.

Estimating a Dose–response Relationship between Length of Stay and Future Recidivism in Serious Juvenile Offenders

August 2009


264 Reads






The effect of sanctions on subsequent criminal activity is of central theoretical importance in criminology. A key question for juvenile justice policy is the degree to which serious juvenile offenders respond to sanctions and/or treatment administered by the juvenile court. The policy question germane to this debate is finding the level of confinement within the juvenile justice system that maximizes the public safety and therapeutic benefits of institutional confinement. Unfortunately, research on this issue has been limited with regard to serious juvenile offenders. We use longitudinal data from a large sample of serious juvenile offenders from two large cities to 1) estimate a causal treatment effect of institutional placement, as opposed to probation, on future rate of rearrest and 2) investigate the existence of a marginal effect (i.e., benefit) for longer length of stay once the institutional placement decision had been made. We accomplish the latter by determining a dose-response relationship between the length of stay and future rates of rearrest and self-reported offending. The results suggest that an overall null effect of placement exists on future rates of rearrest or self-reported offending for serious juvenile offenders. We also find that, for the group placed out of the community, it is apparent that little or no marginal benefit exists for longer lengths of stay. Theoretical, empirical, and policy issues are outlined.


February 1985


50 Reads

In an effort to relieve its overburdened superior courts, California introduced a statutory amendment which allowed lesser felonies to be dealt with in lower-level courts. Using an interrupted time-series methodology, this study examines the impact of this change in law on caseloads, plea bargaining, conviction rates, and sentencing in the superior courts. After the statutory intervention there was a reduction in superior court caseloads, but the overall rate of plea bargaining remained relatively constant. However, there were substantial changes in types of plea bargains with a decline in fast pleas and a corresponding rise in slow pleas. It was also found that severity of sanctions was related to the changing caseload patterns. Policy and theoretical implications of these and other findings are discussed.


March 2006


432 Reads

This paper challenges existing images of the context and object of Cesare Beccaria's (1764) Dei delitti e delle pene. It offers textual and other evidence that the chief object of Beccaria's famous treatise was the application to crime and penality not of humanism and legal rationality, as convention holds, but of the Scottish-inspired “science of man.” This latter was a deterministic discourse whose key principles—utilitarianism, probabilism, associationism, and sensationalism—implicitly defy, conventional assumptions about the volitional basis of classical criminology. The paper thus questions Dei delitti's proper place in the history of criminology and, in so doing, casts doubt on the very existence of a distinctive “classical criminology.”

A century of crime in Toronto: Gender, class, and patterns of social control, 1859 to 1955

November 1990


42 Reads

A great deal of attention has been focused on the nature and extent of contemporary gender differences in criminality and, especially, recent increases in female crime rates. The failure to examine the relation among gender roles, social control mechanisms, and crime rates within a broad historical context, however, has contributed to several shortcomings and misconceptions in current research and theorizing. Results of a time-series analysis of male and female arrests in Toronto from 1859 to 1955 reveal an overall decline in male and female rates, as well as an overriding similarity in long-term patterns of male and female arrest rates for different categories of offenses In particular, the preponderance of public order arrests for males and females strongly confirms the enduring relation between social class and official criminality, regardless of gender. To explain the long-term reduction in female arrest rates, qualitative data are used to illustrate the historically contingent relation between gender roles and changes in formal and informal structures of social control. The findings point to the prominent role of “Yrst-wave feminists” in changing the forms of both formal and informal controls on women, which contributed to a sharp decline in female arrest rates during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Who Kills Whom in Spouse Killings? On the Exceptional Sex Ratio of Spousal Killings in the United States. Criminology, 30(2), 189-215

May 1992


154 Reads

A hitherto unremarked peculiarity of homicide in the United States is that women kill their husbands almost as often as the reverse. For every 100 US. men who kill their wives, about 75 women kill their husbands; this spousal “sex ratio of killing” (SROK) is more than twice that in other Western nations. Our analyses of spousal homicide samples from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain indicate that this contrast cannot be attributed to greater gun use in the United States, nor to a domain-general convergence of the sexes in their uses of violence. Significant predictors of the spousal SROK include registered versus de facto marriage, coresidency versus separation, ethnicity, and age disparity, but the impacts of these variables are not sufficient to explain the differences between US. and other nations’victim sex ratios.

The Radicals and the Rehabilitative Ideal, 1890‐1930

March 2006


24 Reads

This article studies radical and socialist reactions to rehabilitative or discretionary penology in the early twentieth century. Far from foreshadowing the ideas of modern radical criminology, early leftists tended to support the rehabilitative idea very strongly, despite the logical contradictions this presented. I attempt to explain the naivete of early radicals in accepting the claims of the new penology at face value. In particular, an explanation is sought in the common reliance of both socialism and positivism on Darwinian ideas and a shared belief in materialism and determinism.


March 2006


107 Reads

This paper addresses the question of whether the “child saving” movement, a precursor of the modern juvenile justice system. was a benevolent movement to “save” delinquent youths or, as Platt (1977) contends, a class-based movement to extend social control to the children of the poor. Analysis of the child saving movement in Memphis, Tennessee, using historical data, provides support for the thesis advanced by Platt. The evidence collected here strongly suggests that it was the upper-class citizens who were in the forefront of the movement in Memphis. Also, social control was extended over a wide range of behavior (mostly noncriminal) of children and youths, particularly morals offenses and dependency/neglect cases. In Memphis the juvenile justice system was created to control and regulate the children of the poor, not to save them.

The impact of racially inclusive schooling on adult incarceration rates among US cohorts of African Americans and whites since 1930

February 2006


74 Reads

Despite the substantial body of research on the psychological and social effects of racial segregation in schools on African Americans, few studies have considered the possibility that more racially inclusive schools might reduce the risk of extremely negative adult life experiences such as incarceration. Yet such a connection is made plausible by research linking black racial isolation in schools to variables that are often associated with incarceration rates, including concentrated poverty, and low educational and occupational aspirations and attainment. In this paper, we apply methods first developed by labor economists to assess the impact of racial inclusiveness in schools on individual incarceration rates for 5-year cohorts of African Americans and whites born since 1930. We find strong support for the conclusion that blacks educated in states where a higher proportion of their classmates were white experienced significantly lower incarceration rates as adults. Moreover, our analysis suggests that the effects of racial inclusiveness on black incarceration rates have grown stronger over time. These longitudinal effects are consistent with the argument that the educational climate of predominantly black schools has deteriorated in more recent decades.

A comparison of changes in police and general homicides: 1930–1998*

January 2002


158 Reads

This paper presents a new data series for homicides of law enforcement officers. Available for more than two centuries, it is much longer than series previously examined. Police killings had two extreme peaks, one in the 1920s and another in the 1970s. We use the post-1930 part of the series in a time-series regression to explore structural conditions that affect police killings in the short term. Economic conditions, prison populations, and World War II have considerably larger impacts on police killings than on homicide generally. Police killings are less affected by demographic changes and by the crack epidemic.

Social Structure and Swedish Crime Rates A Time‐Series Analysis, 1950‐1979

March 2006


113 Reads

The present article tests Cohenetal 's recent opportunity theory of crime with time series data from Sweden. Swedish welfare capitalism is viewed, from an economic perspective on crime, as possibly counteracting propensities toward crime generated from increased opportunity based, in turn, on the increased production of goods. Control variables are introduced from major alternative theories, including the econcmic, deterrence, and social bonds perspectives. The results of Cochrane-Orcutt timeseries analyses indicate that the greater the availability of goods, the greater the rate of traditional property crime. Support is also found for an economic theory based on unemployment rates and a social bonds theory based on age. The availability of goods measure from an opportunity theory of crime, however, was the variable most closely associated with the variance in crime. The four-fold increase in crime in Sweden was larger than that in the United States.

Crime by committee: Conspirators and company men in the illegal electrical industry cartel, 1954-1959

May 2003


259 Reads

We show how cartels rely on the adaptive social structure of committee meetings to ameliorate the competitive difficulties of markets. We distill the structure of the cartel committee and test hypotheses relating market structure to committee structure and ultimately to the efficacy of cartel price-fixing. Cartel continuity and the corporate authority of the cartel are strong predictors of cartel effectiveness. Cartel continuity is responsive to market conditions that favor cartel formation. Centralization of cartel authority in decision making results in improved collusive pricing effectiveness. Centralization of cartel authority responds to expanding industry volume that bring about incentives to increase firm level market share at the expense of other cartel members.

Race and crime in postwar America: Determinants of African-American and white rates, 1957-1988

May 1992


25 Reads

The idea that crime and deviance are explained mostly by access to opportunities—especially those provided by employment, income, education, and family stability—is one of the most powerful assumptions about crime in postwar America. However, despite its importance, the actual relationship between opportunity measures and crime during this period remains little understood. while cross-sectional studies of these issues have become common, few longitudinal studies exist and those that do include a limited number of variables. Moreover, despite important differences in the history and experiences of African-Americans and whites during this period, researchers have assumed similar dynamics by race. In this paper, we use annual time-series data from 1957–1988 to examine the effects of economic well-being, educational attainment, and family stability on rates of robbery, burglary, and homicide for blacks and whites. Our results show that these measures have different—usually opposite—effects on black and white crime rates during the period. In general, measures of opportunity have expected effects on white but not black rates. We consider the implications for policy and research.

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