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Correlates of Specialization and Escalation in the Criminal Career: Summary Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
12 pages
This paper examines correlates of specialization and escalation in the criminal career.
Virtually all of the research on specialization and escalation has focused on establishing whether offenders tend to commit similar and/or more serious types of offenses over the course of their criminal careers. This paper attempts to determine how personal background characteristics (e.g., personality and behavioral indicators) and social characteristics (e.g., family and peer relationships) may influence patterns of offending. Background characteristics of the offender such as age, race, family background, whether crimes were committed in a group context or alone and social psychological assessment were useful predictors of the types of offenses that may be committed over time. There were interactive effects of age at time of arrest and race with the type of crime committed, and thus the apparent pattern of specialization and of escalation. In addition, adolescent correlates of criminal behavior continued to have predictive power with subsequent offense patterns. The article discusses policy implications of these findings.

Date Published: January 1, 1998