U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

White Collar Crime and Criminal Careers

NCJ Number
D Weisburd; E Waring; E Chayet; D Dickman; R M Fisher; S Plant
Date Published
157 pages
Americans have become increasingly aware of the seriousness of white collar crimes; because crime control theory, however, has typically ignored white collar offenders, the present study examined the criminal careers of approximately l,000 white collar offenders.
White collar offenders are generally portrayed as "one-shot criminals" who do not reoffend after their initial contact with the criminal justice system. Recent empirical studies, however, challenge this assumption by showing that those convicted of white collar crimes are often repeat offenders. The current study looked at the criminal careers of almost 1,000 offenders convicted of white collar crimes in U.S. District Courts. Eight Federal offenses were examined: antitrust offenses, securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, false claims and statements, credit fraud, bank embezzlement, income tax fraud, and bribery. The sample was drawn from Federal judicial districts in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Washington. An extensive codebook was developed to record criminal history information from Federal Bureau of Investigation rap sheets. The codebook captured such aspects of criminal justice system processing as arrest dispositions, sentencing details, characteristics of confinement sentences, and information regarding community supervision. Nearly half (48.3 percent) of the sample were repeat offenders. One-shot offenders tended to be older when first committing white collar crimes and were less likely to be nonwhite than repeat offenders. Among repeat offenders, opportunity seekers generally had a small number of arrests records on their rap sheets. Most of the highest rate offenders in the sample were characterized as deviance seekers. They fit conventional stereotypes of criminality and had social and criminal records indicating instability and low self-control. Findings revealed little evidence of specific deterrence for the prison sample. Seven variables significantly predicted time until failure: gender, prior criminal events, current offense as credit or securities fraud, drug use, marital status, and receiving a fine. Specific factors such as prior record or drug use were also important in understanding recidivism, but their impacts declined as the period of time from criterion offense lengthened. Similarly, white males and females started out with sharply distinct recidivism risks during the first year, but the gap closed over time so that by 84 months the rates were nearly identical. Appendixes provide supplemental data on the study findings. References, tables, and figures