The persistent offender: a longitudinal analysis

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(Dissertation) Ph.D.
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Much research has been conducted in the area of criminal careers and related topics such as persistence. In the study of persistence it is clear from the number of varying definitions that there is no consensus on how criminologists should define persistence, and for that matter, persistent behaviour. In anticipation of further work in the area of persistence and ultimately, crime reduction, this study is an explorative attempt at providing an understanding of the term persistence. Definitions of persistence in the literature are dependent on official data, such as information on arrests, to examine offender behaviour over time. This quantification of behaviour creates a de facto definition of criminal persistence as essentially a measure of continued crime over time. In this study, prior definitions of persistence are applied to a dataset of arrest information on 17,685 juveniles released from California Youth Authority institutions between 1988 and 1998, and followed through 2003. Findings indicate that regardless of how persistence is defined, slightly varying samples of persistent offenders can be found within the same dataset. The findings support previous research in that this analysis reveals that even among a sample of persistent offenders, some percent of offenders account for a larger proportion of all arrest charges. The author discusses how the term persistence may be categorical rather than typical and there may exist therefore, varying types of persistent criminal behaviour.
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