|Life course approaches to the study of crime have become increasingly popular in recent years. In addition, "person-based" sequence analysis is becoming more widely accepted in social sciences. This paper applies these perspectives to the study of juvenile delinquency. Specifically, I use the optimal matching technique to measure criminal career resemblance among juvenile delinquents. Optimal matching allows us to compare entire sequences of events, to see whether there are patterns over parts of or entire sequences. This information is then used to categorize the sequences. The data in this paper are sequences of police contacts of juvenile delinquents in a Midwestern county. The sample consists of minors who have had at least one delinquency petition filed against him/ her. For these minors, we have information on all juvenile police contacts (prior and subsequent to the initial delinquency petition). A preliminary look at the data suggests that, based on age of onset and frequency of contacts, there are several patterns in offending among delinquents. The results of this study have implications for developmental theories of crime, as well as for policies and programs aimed at reducing juvenile recidivism.
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