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Criminal Careers of a sub-set of offenders in Barbados

Gittens, Eleanor (2011) Criminal Careers of a sub-set of offenders in Barbados. Doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract

The research in this thesis built on several papers that have brought criminal career research to the forefront of the scientific and empirical study of criminal behaviour. However, most existing research has been limited in scope and confined to a relatively small range of samples from more developed, first world, countries; in particular, the USA, the UK, and Canada. The main aim of the present research, therefore, was to replicate and extend previous work on criminal careers using a sample of offenders from a developing nation, Barbados. Given the limitations of previous work, the present research not only examined a number of key variables previously identified in relation to criminal careers (onset age, career length, chronicity, versatility, and seriousness), but also extended the investigation to look at issues surrounding specialisation, violence and demographic factors as related to criminal careers. The sample consisted of 1692 offenders who were charged in Barbados during 2002 and 2006 for robbery and sex offences and during 2006 for drug offences. Several important findings emerged. In particular, there was a significant negative relationship between onset age and the other criminal career variables, the latter of which were positively correlated with each other; this supports the idea of a general factor underlying criminal careers. Nevertheless, there were also variations according to different types of offences. Thus, on average, sex and drug offenders had the shortest career lengths and showed the least versatility and the lowest levels of chronicity and seriousness. In contrast, burglary offenders had the longest career lengths, the earliest age of onset, the greatest versatility, and committed the most serious crimes. In addition, contrary to the findings of some previous studies, there was evidence of specialisation in the sample, and specialists had an earlier age of onset, longer careers, lower versatility and lower levels of crime seriousness than non-specialists. Violent offenders showed a similar pattern of earlier age of onset, longer careers, greater versatility and higher levels of chronicity and seriousness than non-violent offenders. Finally, there were some differences according to gender, race, housing area, employment type and educational level for the key criminal career variables. The results of the research are discussed in terms of their comparability with previous research in the field from more developed nations. Despite some interesting discrepancies, it is argued that, in general, the criminal career findings of the present sample are remarkably similar to previous findings from other countries; however, this could be a feature of the particular historical background of Barbados. Other implications for criminal career research, including practical applications, are also discussed, as well as directions for future research.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords:criminal careers specialisation onset age violence
Status:Unpublished
ID Code:5795
Deposited On:10 Aug 2012 12:02
Last Modified:10 Aug 2012 12:02

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