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NCJ Number: 141957 Find in a Library
Title: Does Crime Pay?
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:9  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1992)  Pages:357-377
Author(s): J Q Wilson; A Abrahamse
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 21
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The legitimate and criminal earnings of mid-rate and high-rate burglars, robbers, automobile thieves, swindlers, and other State prison inmates in California, Michigan, and Texas were estimated and compared to the inmates' own perceptions of their earnings, using data from Chaiken and Chaiken's Rand Inmate Survey published in 1982.
Abstract: The inmates were grouped into different categories based on the main type of crime they committed. The mid-rate offenders were defined as those whose crime rates were between the 25th and 75th percentile for the total group, while the high-rate offenders were those between the 50th and 90th percentiles. This approach was chosen to eliminate the extremes, where reporting errors were likely to be most common, and to acknowledge the lack of an "average" offender. Results revealed that crime appears to pay less than legitimate work for most mid-rate offenders; however, the reverse is true for most high-rate offenders. Inmates also believe that they receive much more from crime than they actually do. In addition, the earnings from crime per day spent in prison decrease as the number of crimes increases, suggesting that high-rate offenders commit crimes with little regard to the net yield. Findings indicated that these inmates' criminal careers are not very lucrative and suggested that career criminals do not maximize the net benefits of crime because they are highly opportunistic and oriented to the present. Tables, figure, footnotes, appended methodological information, and 12 references
Main Term(s): Habitual offenders; Inmate attitudes
Index Term(s): California; Criminal career patterns; Employment-crime relationships; Michigan; Texas; Theft offenses; Work attitudes
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