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Exploration of the Correlates of Specialization and Escalation: Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
42 pages
This is the executive summary for a study that examined the roles of the behavioral, social, and psychological characteristics of an offender on patterns of offending across their criminal career.
The authors explain that previous research on the specialization and escalation of crimes has typically focused on the type of crime the offender commits without regard to the individual characteristics of the offender. This research seeks to add to the body of knowledge by exploring how an offender’s individual and social characteristics affect specialization in a type of crime and escalation of criminal activities. The authors used data from a previous study entitled “Predicting Parole Performance in the Era of Crack Cocaine.” The data included information on youths who were under the supervision of the California Youth Authority in the 1980’s. The data contained information about the youth’s background, behavior, and social characteristics. There were two main research questions under examination. First, the authors questioned whether offender background characteristics affected patterns of offending across a criminal career. Second, the authors wondered whether offender background characteristics had time-varying effects on patterns of offending across a criminal career. Results of statistical analyses suggest that offender background characteristics have a significant impact on the type of offense and the type of offense that may be committed over time. In conclusion, the authors suggest that more work is warranted on types of statistical techniques that would allow a researcher to test the effect of the individual correlates of crime on the patterning of offending. References, tables, figures

Date Published: January 1, 2002