SAGE Journal Articles

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Sorensen, J., & Cunningham, M. D. (2010). Conviction offense and prison violence: A comparative study of murderers and other offenders. Crime & Delinquency, 56(1)103–125.

The characteristics of, and 2003 disciplinary data on, 51,527 inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections, including 9,586 inmates who had been convicted of some degree of homicide, were examined for rates and correlates of prison misconduct and violence. Disciplinary misconduct and institutional acts of violence committed by an admissions cohort (N = 14,088) and a subset of Close custody inmates (N = 4,113) also were considered. Regardless of conviction offense, the prevalence and rate of violent prison misconduct fell markedly as the severity of assault increased. Comparative data showed that convicted murderers did not account for a disproportionate share of prison violence, however defined. Furthermore, negative binomial regression models revealed that convicted murderers were not significantly more likely to engage in disciplinary misconduct or commit acts of institutional violence than were inmates serving time for other offenses.

Piquero, A. R., Sullivan, C. J., & Farrington, D. P. (2010). Assessing differences between short term, high rate offenders and long-term, low-rate offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(12), 1309–1329.

In empirically assessing offending trajectory groups, some researchers have identified unexpected classes of offenders. Two such groups are (a) short-term, high-rate offenders and (b) long-term, low-rate offenders. On some aggregate benchmarks, such as lifetime volume of crime, these two groups of offenders may be comparable. Yet a more detailed examination of their careers may reveal important distinctions regarding the correlates of offending, the extent of involvement in crime, and associated costs to society. Furthermore, unpacking the history, profile, and trajectory of these two groups of offenders may suggest unique policy options. The authors examined the question of equivalency in these groups and the factors that contribute to their offending using longitudinal data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development through age 40. Theoretical and policy implications associated with criminal justice response are discussed.

Bushway, S. D., & Piehl, A. M. (2007). The inextricable link between age and criminal history in sentencing. Crime & Delinquency53, 156–183.

In sentencing research, significant negative coefficients on age research have been interpreted as evidence that actors in the criminal justice system discriminate against younger people. This interpretation is incomplete. Criminal sentencing laws generally specify punishment in terms of the number of past events in a defendant’s criminal history. Doing so inadvertently makes age a meaningful variable because older people have had more time to accumulate criminal history events. Therefore, two people of different ages with the same criminal history are not in fact equal. This is true for pure retributivists, as the fact that the younger offender has been committing crimes at a higher rate of offending may make the younger offender more culpable, and is also true for those with some utilitarian aims for sentencing. Simulation results illustrate the stakes. To a certain extent, the interests of low-rate older offenders are opposed to those of high-rate younger offenders.