This research examined the relationship between mortality and criminal propensity and history so as to reach a better understanding of factors associated with increased risk of dying among a population presumed to be at high risk of premature death.
Mortality data were obtained from California Vital Statistics for more than 4,000 youths paroled by the California Youth Authority during the 1980s. Exposure periods (time at risk of death) were approximately 11 years and 6 years for the two samples. Known deaths for two cohorts were 181 for the 3,995 male offenders in the two samples, including 109 for the 1,998 males in the 1981-1982 sample and 72 for the 1,997 males in the 1986- 1987 sample. Homicide was the prevailing cause of death for both samples. Of particular note is the fact that the numbers of deaths due to causes other than homicide are roughly proportional to the length of the exposure periods for the two samples; and the numbers of homicides are roughly equal despite the very different lengths of time at risk. A higher probability of death by murder was found for black youth, those from Los Angeles, those with a history of gang involvement and institutional violence, as well as those with a history of drug arrests. 10 figures, 7 tables, 14 notes, and 16 references