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Are the same factors related to participation and frequency of offending by male and female prisoners?

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This paper is the first to compare correlates of participation and frequency of violent and property offending by male and female offenders. The criminal career approach suggests that different features of criminal careers may have different correlates and predictors, whereas Gottfredson and Hirschi argued that all criminal career features have the same correlates and predictors. This paper investigates how much 24 explanatory constructs, derived from social learning, labelling and personality theories, were related to participation and frequency of offending. Samples of 118 male prisoners and 93 female prisoners in Trinidad were interviewed to determine whether they participated in violent and property crimes and the frequency with which they committed these crimes. The results showed that these theoretical constructs (especially labelling) were much more related to participation than to frequency, but they were similarly related to violent and property offending. They were similarly related to male and female frequency but not to male and female participation in offending. In general, different factors influenced participation and frequency, although impulsivity was related to both for males and females. It is concluded that existing theories need to be improved to explain the frequency of offending.
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Keywords: Prisoners; gender differences; labelling; offending; personality; social learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University, UK

Publication date: 2006-10-01

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