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  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: June 2009

Chapter Six - Understanding Recidivism


In the previous chapters our aim was to provide a detailed portrait of the criminal careers of offenders convicted of white-collar crimes. Aside from noting the general characteristics that were related to different types of offending patterns and identifying the specific impacts of prison sentences on rearrest after the criterion offense, we focused more on description than on explanation. In this chapter our aim is different. We want to step back from these descriptions to see if knowledge of an offender's social and criminal background can help us to explain his or her future involvement in crime as evidenced in the FBI rap sheets. We begin the chapter by identifying variables that prior research and theory would suggest are important for modeling recidivism in a white-collar crime sample. We then examine the impacts of these measures on rearrest in the context of a multivariate accelerated failure time model.

Modeling Recidivism

Prior studies of recidivism suggest a number of different factors that influence reoffending. For example, as noted in earlier chapters, social stability and achievement on the one hand and deviance on the other have often been linked to criminality (e.g., see Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990). Others have emphasized the importance of prior criminal behavior (e.g., see Farrington et al., 1988; Wolfgang et al., 1987). In the case of white collar crime, criminologists have been particularly concerned with the impacts of both formal and informal sanctions on future offending (e.g., see Benson and Moore, 1992).