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Victimization and Desistance From Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: 2019 Pages: 86-106
Jillian J. Turanovic
Date Published
21 pages
The purpose of this study was to identify the processes that lead to changes in crime over time among victimized offenders.
Victimization is a negative life experience that tends to occur in the context of one's own offending. Although much of the literature shows that victimization often leads to increases in criminal behavior, there are also reasons to believe that, for some offenders, victimization can be a turning point that marks the end of criminal careers. The problem, however, is that little is known about why some victims desist from crime and others do not. In the current study, a subset of data from the Pathways to Desistance Study was used. It is a multi-site, 7-year longitudinal study of serious juvenile offenders. Multilevel models were estimated to determine the behavioral, cognitive, and social sources of changes in crime among 190 victimized male offenders (N=1,540 person-waves). The findings suggest that victimized offenders who reduce their affiliations to deviant peers (i.e., peers who hold attitudes favorable to crime) engage in less crime over time. These changes to peer affiliations are preceded by victims' reductions in binge drinking and transitions into fatherhood. The study concluded that there is variability in offending among victims of crime that is not often explored, so future research would benefit from focusing not only on whether victimization increases offending, but for whom. (publisher abstract modified)