Over the past two centuries, many aspects of criminal behavior have been investigated. Finding this information and making sense of it all is difficult when many studies would appear to offer contradictory findings. The Handbook of Crime Correlates collects in one source the summary analysis of crime research worldwide. It provides over 400 tables that divide crime research into nine broad categories:
- Pervasiveness and intra-offending relationships
- Demographic factors
- Ecological and macroeconomic factors
- Family and peer factors
- Institutional factors
- Behavioral and personality factors
- Cognitive factors
- Biological factors
- Crime victimization and fear of crime
Within these broad categories, tables identify regions of the world and how separate variables are or are not positively or negatively associated with criminal behavior. Criminal behavior is broken down into separate offending categories of violent crime, property crime, drug offenses, sex offenses, delinquency, general and adult offenses, and recidivism. Accompanying each table is a description of what each table indicates in terms of the positive or negative association of specific variables with specific types of crime by region.
This book should serve as a valuable resource for criminal justice personnel and academics in the social and life sciences interested in criminal behavior.
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Handbook of Crime Correlates
By Lee Ellis Kevin Beaver John Wright
Academic PressCopyright © 2009 Elsevier Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePervasiveness and Intra-Offending Relationships
1.1 Pervasiveness 1 1.1.1 Prevalence Estimates for Homicide 1 1.1.2 Percentage Estimates for Frequently Occurring Types of Offenses 3 1.1.3 Percentage Estimates for Antisocial Behavior and Chronic Physical Aggression 3 1.1.4 Criminal Versatility 3 1.1.5 Sequences in Criminal Offending 3 1.1.6 Trends in Delinquent/Criminal Offending 3
1.2 Intra-offending relationships 3 1.2.1 Officially Detected Violent Crime and Self-Reported Offending or Antisocial Behavior 3 1.2.2 Officially Detected Drug Crimes and Delinquency in General 3 1.2.3 Officially Detected Delinquency and Criminal or Antisocial Behavior 3 1.2.4 Adult Crimes, Official and Delinquency or Antisocial Behavior 6 1.2.5 Recidivism and Delinquency or Antisocial Behavior 6 1.2.6 Self-Reported Offenses in General 6 1.2.7 Self-Reported Drug Offenses 7 1.2.8 Conduct Disorders in Childhood and Early Adolescence 7 1.2.9 Antisocial Personality in Later Adolescence and Adulthood 7
The initial chapter of the book is devoted to exploring the pervasiveness of criminality and the relationships between various types of criminality. In other words, how extensive is criminal (and delinquent) behavior throughout the world? And, to what extent is one type of offending associated with another type.
Research pertaining to the prevalence of various categories of crime for different geographical locations and periods of time is summarized in the tables in this section of Chapter 1. Prevalence estimates are obtained by dividing the number of crimes in a given geographical area by the number of human inhabitants in that area. For comparison purposes, the results of these calculations are nearly always expressed in terms of the number of crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.
1.1.1 Prevalence Estimates for Homicide
The earliest known estimates for the prevalence of homicide (murder) extend back into some medieval European cities. Nationwide estimates for Europe, however, did not begin to appear until several centuries later. The findings from these historic studies are summarized in Table 1.1.1 along with estimates from more contemporary times.
Examination of Table 1.1.1 reveals that overall there has been a dramatic downturn in homicide rates from earlier centuries. This table also contains estimates of "virtual murder" in several preliterate societies. Virtual murders are murders in all respects except that they occur where no written laws exist. Estimates are derived from anthropological interviews of members of foraging or tribal populations about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their friends and relatives. It should be noted that often only a few hundred persons are interviewed which typically yields results surrounding the death of no more than a few thousand persons. Such a limited number of deaths reported do not provide stable estimates because official murder rates are usually expressed in terms of rates per 100,000. Nevertheless, this research has provided an interesting (but cloudy) window into the prevalence of deaths due to violence in preliterate societies.
Comparisons across vastly different cultures should be tempered with the realization that modern emergency medical services have dramatically lowered the likelihood of death from wounds suffered in many assaults. One estimate was that the current homicide rate would be as much as five times higher if today's emergency medical services were the same as those provided as recently as half a century ago (A Harris et al. 2002).
1.1.2 Percentage Estimates for Frequently Occurring Types of Offenses
In statistical terms, murder is an extremely rare crime. For this reason, as noted in the preceding table, its occurrence is usually expressed in annual terms of per 100,000 population. Table 1.1.2 pertains to much more common types of offenses. Specifically, the percentage estimates (i.e., "per 100") of the following are summarized in this table: (a) recidivism, (b) overall self-reported offending, and (c) the self-reported use of illegal drugs.
Recidivism pertains to the commission of an additional offense after having committed an earlier offense (which is usually inferred based on a prior conviction). As one can see, the estimates of recidivism rates range from 30 to 90%, depending on the length of time following release from custody to whether or not parole revocations are included as part of the recidivism measure.
The studies of overall self-reported offending are derived from surveys in which subjects voluntarily report (usually anonymously) the number of illegal acts they recall having committed. Unless specified otherwise, these acts include both victimful crimes (such as assaults, thefts, and vandalism) and victimless offenses (such as drug use and curfew or truancy violations). Table 1.1.2 suggests that approximately 90% of people recall having committed at least one delinquent or criminal act by the time they have reached their 20s.
At least in recent decades, the single most frequently reported type of self-reported offense is drug-related (mainly the possession and use of prohibited drugs, especially marijuana). Table 1.1.2 shows that the percentage estimates of illegal drug use varies considerably from one country to another, and also vary considerably within countries and within subpopulations over time.
1.1.3 Percentage Estimates for Antisocial Behavior and Chronic Physical Aggression
In Table 1.1.3 one finds a summary of studies that were located in which empirical estimates were provided regarding the prevalence of antisocial behavior. As one can see, all estimates are under 10%, and they are usually closer to 2–5%. This is true for both childhood and early adolescent forms (known as childhood conduct disorders) and for the forms that emerge in late adolescence or adulthood (called antisocial behavior or psychopathy). Chronic physical aggression, on the other hand, has been estimated to be more common than antisocial behavior, although still under 10%.
1.1.4 Criminal Versatility
According to one study of female prisoners, those who were diagnosed as psychopathic were more likely than those who were nonpsychopathic to have committed a wide range of offenses (Table 1.1.4). A review of the literature of offenders generally reached the same conclusion regarding a link between psychopathy and crime versatility (Hemphill et al. 1998).
1.1.5 Sequences in Criminal Offending
A few studies of self-reported offending have examined the following question: Do drug offenses usually precede or follow involvement in other types of crime? As shown in Table 1.1.5, the pertinent studies have concluded that drug offenses usually follow the commission of other (usually victimful) types of offenses.
1.1.6 Trends in Delinquent/Criminal Offending
One study was located regarding trends in victimful offending. As shown in Table 1.1.6, this study concluded that in the United States, the rates of violent and property crimes decreased substantially between 1994 and 2003.
1.2 INTRA-OFFENDING RELATIONSHIPS
Numerous studies have been undertaken to determine whether or not the commission of one type of crime is associated with the commission of one or more other types. Results of these studies, along with research correlating involvement in crime with the diagnosis of an antisocial personality condition, are presented below.
1.2.1 Officially Detected Violent Crime and Self-Reported Offending or Antisocial Behavior
A few studies have investigated the connection between officially detected involvement in violent crime and either self-reported illegal drug use or a diagnosis of antisocial personality or behavior. As shown in Table 1.2.1, these studies have concluded that these phenomena are all positively correlated with one another.
1.2.2 Officially Detected Drug Crimes and Delinquency in General
As shown in Table 1.2.2, one study conducted in two countries found that persons arrested for marijuana possession are more likely than persons in general to also be arrested for delinquency.
1.2.3 Officially Detected Delinquency and Criminal or Antisocial Behavior
According to numerous studies of official delinquency, such behavior is positively correlated with a statistically significant degree with adulthood criminality and with self-reported offending. Also, persons who have been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder are more likely to be officially identified as delinquent than are their unidentified peers (Table 1.2.3).
1.2.4 Adult Crimes, Official and Delinquency or Antisocial Behavior
Table 1.2.4 summarizes findings concerning the relationship between an official identification as an adult offender and (a) involvement in delinquency and (b) a diagnosis of antisocial personality. The available evidence suggests that these phenomena are positively correlated with a significant degree.
Excerpted from Handbook of Crime Correlates by Lee Ellis Kevin Beaver John Wright Copyright © 2009 by Elsevier Inc. . Excerpted by permission of Academic Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Pervasiveness and Intra-Offending Relationships
Ecological and Macro-Economic Factors
Family and Peer Factors
Behavioral and Personality Factors
Crime Victimization and Fear of Crime
References and all tabular materials can be found at our website: http://booksite.elsevier.com/Ellis/