Source: (2001) Western Criminology Review. 4 (1): 30-54.
Developmental theories of crime offer criminologists an opportunity to understand how early attachment
processes and later attachment processes are linked to the development of empathy and desistance.
Sampson and Laubâ€™s classic work illustrated that among non-substance-abusing men, attachments to
partners or to work lead toward desistance (Sampson and Laub 1993). Similarly, Hagan and McCarthyâ€™s
research further develops an integrated social capital theory of crime based upon numerous theoretical
perspectives including revised strain theory, control theory, the sociology of emotions literature, and
Braithwaiteâ€™s reintegrative shaming (Hagan and McCarthy 1997; Braithwaite 1989; Hay 2001). However,
Hagan and McCarthy omit the work of developmental psychology positing that early insecure attachment
in conjunction with child abuse leads to a variety of negative developmental outcomes including mistrust,
shame, doubt, and survival delinquency. This shame, as evidenced by Hagan and McCarthyâ€™s work, is
reinforced by punitive criminal justice responses to youth crime leading to more criminal behavior. This
paper re-examines Hagan and McCarthyâ€™s tenets using the National Educational Longitudinal Study.
Findings illustrate that proactive rather than reactive responses to youth crime act to decrease shame and
transform the effects of early insecure attachments indirectly leading towards desistance from some types
of crime. (author’s abstract).
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