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Trajectories of Change in Criminal Offending: Good Marriages and the Desistance Process

NCJ Number
American Sociological Review Volume: 63 Issue: Dated: Pages: 225-238
J H Laub; D S Nagin; R J Sampson
Date Published
14 pages
Based on longitudinal data from Glueck and Glueck's (1950, 1968) classic study of criminal careers, this study tests an hypothesized analogy between changes in criminal offending spurred by the formation of social bonds and an investment process.
The study analyzed the criminal histories of 500 delinquent boys who were followed into adulthood by Glueck and Glueck. This study was begun in 1940 and included a control group of 500 nondelinquent boys. Since the authors were interested in desistance from crime, they excluded the nondelinquent sample from this study. The data collection extended from 1940 through 1965. Interview data were supplemented by field investigations that obtained information from the records of public and private agencies. The following measures that covered childhood, adolescence, and adulthood were selected: individual differences, family differences, adolescent behavior, adult criminal behavior, and adult social bonds. The authors anticipated that individuals who enter early into a marriage that subsequently evolves into a strong attachment will desist from crime the soonest. This concept suggests that because investment in social relationships is gradual and cumulative, resulting desistance will be gradual and cumulative. This hypothesis was confirmed, as the results show that desistance from crime was facilitated in the study sample by the development of quality marital bonds and that this influence was gradual and cumulative over time. 2 figures, 5 tables, and 21 references