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

NCJ Number
Development and Psychopathology Volume: 29 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2017 Pages: 819-835
Date Published
August 2017
17 pages
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 Published: August 1, 2017