Do Career Criminals Exist in Rural America?

Mark T. Berg
Matt DeLisi, Iowa State University

The criminal career paradigm has virtually ignored investigating offenders in rural areas. The current study seeks to fill this void in the literature by empirically examining the prevalence of career criminals in rural America. A retrospective, cross-sectional design sampled 351 adult correctional clients from the department of corrections in a rural Midwestern state. Self-report and official records indicate that rural career offenders are less dangerous and less chronic than those from urban areas. However, like their urban peers, rural career criminals commit an array of offenses, have an early onset of antisocial behavior, and are plagued by overlapping contemporaneous problems such as alcoholism, substance abuse, and mental health difficulties. Demographically, nearly all career criminals in rural settings are White males. Implications for criminal career-oriented theory are provided.

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Updated 05/20/2006