Based on interviews with 658 newly convicted male offenders sentenced in Nebraska during a 9-month period (1989-90), this study examined month-to-month changes in offending and life circumstances in order to determine any links between offending behavior and life circumstances.
The study found that overall the criminal careers of adult offenders do not necessarily follow a predetermined criminal path due to various factors operative in childhood and adolescence. Short-term life circumstances in adulthood may sharply increase or decrease criminal activity among serious offenders. This study found that the use of illegal drugs was related to all four of the study's measures of offending: any crime, property crime, assault, and drug crime. Living with a wife was associated with lower levels of offending; however, living with a girlfriend was associated with higher levels of any crime, especially drug crime. Attending school reduced the likelihood of committing any crime by 52 percent and involvement in drug crimes by 61 percent. Surprisingly, working was only weakly related to adult criminal behavior. Probation or parole supervision lowered offending rates only modestly, but did not produce substantial reductions in crime among these serious offenders. One implication of these findings is that inmate prerelease and transition programs should focus on assisting offenders in avoiding life circumstances that may lead to increased criminal activity while engaging in activities that will reduce their involvement in crime.
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: June 1, 1996