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Situational Factors and the Victim-Offender Overlap

NCJ Number
251547
Date Published
January 2018
Length
12 pages
Author(s)
Mark T. Berg; Richard Felson
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Publication Type
Research (Applied/Empirical), Report (Study/Research), Report (Grant Sponsored), Program/Project Description
Grant Number(s)
2012-R2-CX-0012
Annotation
The findings and methodology are presented for a project that examined the victim-offender overlap in personal disputes and the characteristics of such disputes that contribute to this overlap.
Abstract
Study data were obtained from 426 male inmates in the Pennsylvania state prison system and 77 men from five other state prisons. Also interviewed were 220 men they knew from the community who had never been arrested. The inmate sample was restricted to those at least 18 years old who had been incarcerated for 6 months or less. Researchers assumed the recently admitted inmates would be better able to recall experiences before entering prison. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their verbal conflicts and their violent victimizations, as well as their self-control, alcohol use, and honor-based attitudes. Respondents were also asked about two types of disputes that occurred before they were incarcerated. One involved a dispute featuring verbal aggression, and the other involved violence. Respondents were asked whether during these disputes, they or their antagonists engaged in insults, threats, remedial actions, and whether they were intoxicated. The content of the dispute was also determined. The study findings suggest three conclusions. First, the willingness to challenge people in disputes ("disputatiousness") accounts for a substantial portion of the relationship between offending and victimization. Second, offenders tend to be disputatious because of their low self-control, heavy alcohol use, and honor-related attitudes. Third, the primary reason men with low self-control and alcohol problems are more likely to become victims is their disputatiousness. Future research in this area is discussed. 6 references Study data were obtained from 426 male inmates in the Pennsylvania state prison system and 77 men from five other state prisons. Also interviewed were 220 men they knew from the community who had never been arrested. The inmate sample was restricted to those at least 18 years old who had been incarcerated for 6 months or less. Researchers assumed the recently admitted inmates would be better able to recall experiences before entering prison. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their verbal conflicts and their violent victimizations, as well as their self-control, alcohol use, and honor-based attitudes. Respondents were also asked about two types of disputes that occurred before they were incarcerated. One involved a dispute featuring verbal aggression, and the other involved violence. Respondents were asked whether during these disputes, they or their antagonists engaged in insults, threats, remedial actions, and whether they were intoxicated. The content of the dispute was also determined. The study findings suggest three conclusions. First, the willingness to challenge people in disputes ("disputatiousness") accounts for a substantial portion of the relationship between offending and victimization. Second, offenders tend to be disputatious because of their low self-control, heavy alcohol use, and honor-related attitudes. Third, the primary reason men with low self-control and alcohol problems are more likely to become victims is their disputatiousness. Future research in this area is discussed. 6 references
Date Created: March 7, 2018