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Parsing Apart the Persisters: Etiological Mechanisms and Criminal Offense Patterns of Moderate- and High-level Persistent Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
17 pages
Jamie Amemiya, Susan Vanderhei, Kathryn C. Monahan
In order to inform theory and improve understanding of chronic antisocial behavior, this study monitored a sample of serious adolescent offenders (N =1,088) followed from middle adolescence to early adulthood (14–25 years), with a focus on how moderate-level, persistent offenders differed from low-rate, desisting, and high-level persistent offenders.
Longitudinal investigations that have applied Moffitt's dual taxonomic framework to criminal offending have provided support for the existence of adolescent-limited and life-course persistent antisocial individuals, and have also identified additional trajectories; for instance, rather than a single persistent trajectory, studies have found both high-level and moderate-level persistent offenders. The current study found that moderate-level persisters' etiology and criminal offense patterns were most similar to high-level persisters, but there were notable differences. Specifically, increasing levels of contextual adversity characterized both moderate-level and high-level persisting trajectories, but moderate-level persisters reported consistently lower levels of environmental risk. While both high- and moderate-level persisters committed more drug-related offenses in early adulthood compared to adolescence, moderate-level persisters engaged in lower levels of antisocial behavior across all types of criminal offenses. Taken cumulatively, the findings of this study suggest that socio-contextual interventions may be effective in reducing both moderate- and high-level persistence in crime. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Created: October 29, 2018