Criminal propensities, discrete groups of offenders, and persistence in crime

Charles W. Dean, Robert Brame, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Criminal propensity theorists argue that the causes of variation in offending behavior can be traced to variation in one or more causal traits. Other theorists contend that there is actually more than one type of offender and that more than one causal mechanism operates to explain offending behavior. In this article, some of the implications of these two positions are considered. Then, their congruence with recidivism data from a cohort of post-age-16 North Carolina institutional releasees (N = 848) is assessed. The analysis focuses specifically on whether the correlates of offending persistence are similar across two categories of individuals: those who experienced their first adjudication at an early age and those who were first adjudicated at a later age. In support of both positions, some similarities and some differences in the correlates of persistence were discovered. The differences, however, were only evident when the threshold for late first adjudication was set to age 12. When this threshold was raised to higher ages, the differences disappeared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-574
Number of pages28
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

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