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Somewhere Between Persistence and Desistance: the Intermittency of Criminal Careers

Piquero, Alex R
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In, Shadd Maruna and Russ Immarigeon, eds, After Crime and Punishment: Pathways to Offender Reintegration. Devon, UK and Portland Oregon: Willan Publishing. Pp. 102-129.

As Alex Piquero writes, there is a well-established, strong correlation between age and criminal behavior. Put simply, criminal behavior tends to decline with age. This is called desistance – the voluntary, eventual cessation of criminal actions by most criminals as they age. While it is well documented, desistance is difficult to study, largely because an individual can still offend at any point before he or she dies, even if the frequency of offending has declined. This raises a number of questions about intermittency – that is, consecutive stops and starts in criminal behavior. Hence, in this chapter Piquero discusses the concept of intermittency, its use in empirical research, and its current lack of theoretical explanation. He then examines several criminological theories with respect to the pattern of intermittency in criminal careers.


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