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Exploration of the Correlates of Specialization and Escalation: Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
129 pages
This is the final report of a study that explored whether the behavioral, social, and psychological characteristics of an offender affected their patterns of offending during their criminal career.
In this final report, the authors build on previous research concerning the specialization and escalation of crimes over the life of a criminal career. This research explores whether an offenders behavioral, social, and psychological characteristics impact their degree of specialization in a type of crime and their pattern of escalation of criminal activities over time. 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. here 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 revealed that individual characteristics had a significant impact on offense sequences. Offender background characteristics had a significant impact on the type of offense committed over time. The authors claim that the results have important implications for criminological theory because the presence of particular offender characteristics may lead to increases in the chances of specific types of crimes. Thus, specialization in certain types of offenses is the product of individual offender characteristics. This research also has implications for criminal justice policy because the results show that prior violence is associated with an increase in the odds of future violence. References, tables, figures

Date Published: January 1, 2002