U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Operational Definition of Prior Criminal Record

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 5 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1989) Pages: 333-352
J F Nelson
Date Published
20 pages
In New York State, there are a variety of measures of prior criminal record which are used to explain differences in incarceration.
Analysis shows that measures based on arrest, conviction, or incarceration data are equally effective at explaining differences in incarceration. Measures based on counts do better in their logarithmic than in their arithmetic scales. Prior record is more closely related to incarceration for moderately serious than for serious or minor crimes, and prior record is more closely related to incarceration for crimes that have a theft component than for crimes that do not. An easy to compute composite prior record measure is developed that combines arrest and conviction data. It is as effective at explaining variation in incarceration as the most elaborate measures examined. 57 tables, 27 references. (Author abstract modified)


No download available