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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 136258 Find in a Library
Title: Age, Differential Expectations, and Crime Desistance
Journal: Criminology  Volume:30  Issue:1  Dated:(February 1992)  Pages:89-104
Author(s): N Shover; C Y Thompson
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 16
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An individual-level model is specified that links crime desistance to estimates of legal risk, differential expectations, degree of past success at legitimate and criminal pursuits, and age.
Abstract: Two logically complementary constructions of the theoretical link between age and crime desistance have been offered. The first explanation posits a direct, positive relationship between the two. The second explanation hypothesizes significant indirect links between age and crime desistance. Success at criminal pursuits strengthens the commitment to criminal others and criminal lines of action and erodes the perceived formal risk of crime. Crime becomes less attractive with increasing age; one researcher contends that aging offenders gradually become aware of life as a finite, diminishing resource and that they become increasingly unwilling to risk wasting their remaining years in prison. Increasing age and past performance in straight and criminal pursuits thus determine the offender's differential expectations. Longitudinal data on serious, previously imprisoned offenders confirm that age decreases estimates of the likely payoff from crime and legitimate employment. Contrary to predictions, the data show that age is unrelated to the perceived legal risk of renewed criminal participation. Age, past success at avoiding confinement, expectations of success from crime, and level of education are shown to be significant predictors of crime desistance. In general, the data support theoretical explanations that emphasize both direct and indirect links between age and crime desistance. An appendix defines variables used in the longitudinal study. 42 references, 2 tables and 1 figure
Main Term(s): Crime causes theory
Index Term(s): Age group comparisons; Criminal career patterns
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