Aggregating to Versatility?: Transitions Among Offender Types in the Short Term

Posted: 13 Mar 2009

See all articles by Jean Marie McGloin

Jean Marie McGloin

University of Maryland - Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice

Christopher J. Sullivan

United Nations - Federal Credit Union (UNFCU)

Alex R. Piquero

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; Griffith University

Date Written: March 2009

Abstract

Empirical work consistently shows that offenders demonstrate diverse offending profiles over the life-course, but recent research also reveals indications of specialization in the short term. One way to reconcile these findings is the proposal that offenders favour certain offence types during the short term, largely because of opportunity structures, but that because of changing situations and contexts over the life-course, their offending profiles aggregate to versatility over the criminal career. The current inquiry also proposes that a particular analytic technique, latent transition analysis (LTA), is especially well suited for investigating this premise. This method both (1) derives latent classes of offender ‘types’ from the data, as well as (2) assesses the level and type of transitions among these types over time. We provide an empirical example that demonstrates the utility of this method and investigates the tenability of this view of specialization. Results emerging from life-event history self-report data on offending garnered from incarcerated felons provide modest support for the idea that offenders have crime preferences in relatively narrow time periods, but that they transition over time, thus suggesting a tendency to ‘aggregate to versatility’. The discussion considers the implications of these findings as well as offers some key points for future research.

Suggested Citation

McGloin, Jean Marie and Sullivan, Christopher J. and Piquero, Alex R., Aggregating to Versatility?: Transitions Among Offender Types in the Short Term (March 2009). The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 49, Issue 2, pp. 243-264, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1357914 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azn072

Jean Marie McGloin (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice ( email )

2220 LeFrak Hall
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Christopher J. Sullivan

United Nations - Federal Credit Union (UNFCU) ( email )

United States

Alex R. Piquero

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences ( email )

800 W. Campbell Road, GR31
Richardson, TX 75080
United States
972-883-2482 (Phone)
972-883-6572 (Fax)

Griffith University

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111
Australia

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