Specialization Over the Criminal Career: Change or Stability

Todd A. Armstrong, Arizona State University West

Evidence for specialization is strongest in samples of juveile offenders and weaker in samples of adult offenders (Cohen, 1986, Britt 1996). This study tests whether or not the tendency of samples of adult offenders to provide stronger edvidence for specialization is attributable to a selection process or to a developmental process in which offenders learn to repeat crimes that they are proficient at. In order to test these competing explanations data containing information on juvenile and adult offending were necessary. This allowed the comparison of the tendency to specialize early in the criminal career to the tendency to specialize later in the criminal career.

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Updated 05/20/2006