The Criminal Careers of Murderers, Rapists, and Kidnappers

Matt Delisi, Iowa State University

Although murder, rape, and kidnapping are considered the most serious crimes, little criminal career research has investigated offenders who commit these offenses. This study uses a population of 500 habitual offenders with at least 30 arrests to compare the criminal careers of murderers, rapists, and kidnappers to other chronic recidivists. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and negative binomial regression analyses indicated that murderers, rapists, and kidnappers totaled more violent Index arrests, netted more felony convictions and prison sentences, and offended for a longer span than their recidivist peers. Murderers, rapists, and kidnappers were disproportionately male and middle-aged. No differences were found regarding property Index arrests. Murderers, rapists, and kidnappers were also indistinguishable from other career criminals in terms of race/ethnicity and age of onset of arrest. Given the policy relevance of criminal career research, more scholarly attention should focus on murderers, rapists, and kidnappers.

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Updated 05/20/2006