Most people engage in crime at some point in their lives, but why does almost everybody stop soon after? And, why do a small number of offenders persist in crime? These two questions constitute the core of the field often known as life-course criminology. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to life-course criminology. It covers the dominant theories and methodologies in the field and equips you with all you need to succeed in your studies on the subject. The book: • Discusses the methodologies of life-course and longitudinal research • Explains and critiques the major theories of life-course criminology • Considers the issues of risk, prediction, onset, persistence and desistance of criminal activity • Draws on research from studies in Europe, the UK, US and Australia, including the Stockholm Life-Course Project Written by two leading figures in the field, this is an authoritative text that will guide you through your studies in life-course criminology, criminal career research, and developmental criminology.
Chapter 7: Continuity in Offending: Persistence
Continuity in Offending: Persistence
The criminal career begins with onset. For many offenders it ends soon thereafter: for any given group, prevalence in crime peaks during the teenage years when criminal offending is very common, and then it dramatically decreases. Between ages 20 and 29, the vast majority of offenders desist from crime and move into a conventional, adult life (Farrington, 2003). As Benson (2013: 123) notes, the
vandalism, shoplifting, petty thefts, fist fights, illegal drug use, and drunkenness that are so common among teenagers that they are statistically normal become decidedly abnormal for a substantial majority of people after the age of 25.
Only a small portion of all offenders develop a persistent criminal career. These offenders, while they constitute somewhere between ...