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An Examination of adult onset offending

University of Florida Institutional Repository

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AN EXAMINATION OF AD ULT ONSET OFFENDING By ZENTA GOMEZ-SMITH A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2004

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Copyright 2004 by Zenta Gomez-Smith

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This document is dedicated to my husband, La rry D. Smith, and to my parents, Alvaro Gomez and Routa Kroumovitch-Gomez

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Alex Piquero, my committee chair and mentor, for his guidance, availability, and support. I would also like to thank Dr. Lonn Lanza-Kaduce and Dr. Terry L. Mills, my committee members, for their highly constructive comments and suggestions that greatly enhanced the quality of my thesis. I am very appreciative to the Department of Criminology and Law, the faculty, staff, and graduate students. The collaborative and supportive environment has significantly contributed to my graduate experience. I have to show my gratitude to the girls, for sharing the unique experiences in graduate school, but, most of all, for all of the fun we have shared. Finally, I would like to show my greatest appreciation to my husband, Larry D. Smith, to my parents, Routa Kroumovitch-Gomez and Alvaro Gomez, and to my sister, Gaida Gomez. It is through their love, support, and encouragement that I have been able to become the person that I am. iv

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................vii INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................1 LIFE-COURSE PERSPECTIVE AND THE CRIMINAL CAREER.................................3 ONSET OF ADULT OFFENDING....................................................................................6 DATA................................................................................................................................13 Variables.....................................................................................................................14 Analytic Plan..............................................................................................................16 RESULTS..........................................................................................................................18 Models........................................................................................................................18 Discussion...................................................................................................................24 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................29 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................33 v

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 1. Adult Onset Compared to All Other Sample Members................................................20 2. Adult Onset Compared to Non-offenders.....................................................................22 3. Adult Onset Compared to Desisters-............................................................................23 vi

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts AN EXAMINATION OF ADULT ONSET OFFENDING By Zenta Gomez-Smith May 2004 Chair: Alex Piquero Major Department: Criminology and Law Criminal onset has been a highly researched area in life-course criminology; however, the majority of research has focused on juvenile offenders. As a consequence, adult onset offending has not received adequate attention in the field, and the factors related to this type of criminal initiator are understudied and neglected. In this study, we first focus on whether or not adult onset exists, and, if so, what factors account for adult onset. Secondly, by applying a variety of independent variables, this study examines whether correlates of adult onset can be established, and, if so, if these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of criminal initiators such as nonoffenders, desisters, and persisters. Three key findings emerged from our analysis. First, females are less likely than males to be adult onset offenders. Second, participants who had mothers that smoked cigarettes during pregnancy were more likely to be adult onset offenders than nonoffenders. Third, participants who had higher scores on the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were less likely to be adult onset offenders. Future directions are outlined. vii

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Research on adult criminal onset is frequently regarded as unnecessary due to the long established belief that adult criminals are most often grown juvenile delinquents. In general, both to researchers and to policymakers, it seems as though crime is associated with younger persons (Aday 2003). This belief is most likely rooted in two pieces of time-honored criminological knowledge. The first is that adolescents are disproportionately accountable for crime (Farrington 1986). The second is the largely accepted finding concerning aggregate patterns of the age-crime curve, which describe crime rates as reaching their highest points in the late adolescent years and subsequently declining with age (Sampson & Laub 1992). Consequently, the majority of research available on both the onset of criminal careers and broader crime is focused on younger populations. Research on adult offending, and, more specifically, adult criminal onset, is therefore less common and under-explored in the field of criminology (Sampson & Laub 1992). However, this is not to say that adults offend less often than juveniles, or that adult criminal onset has not been recognized in empirical research. Adult offenders are consistently responsible for the majority of arrests in the United States (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2000,2001,2002), and adult criminal onset has indeed been identified in several criminological longitudinal studies (Eggleston & Laub 2002). Nonetheless, the results of these studies do not come without debate. The occurrence of adult criminal onset is often blamed on the use of official records or is disregarded as an infrequent phenomenon, and described as negligible or rare 1

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2 (Wolfgang, Thornberry, & Figlio 1987; Moffitt et al. 2001). For example, Terrie Moffitt and colleagues (2001) state that onset of antisocial behaviour after adolescence is extremely rare, and believe that the studies that have found significant amounts of adult onset are faulted by their use of official records instead of self-reports. The argument is that criminal or deviant behaviors taking place in the adolescent or childhood years that go undetected and are not officially documented will not be accounted for in the studies that use official records instead of self-report interviews or questionnaires. Hence, while adult onset has only been examined in few studies, the research findings are conflicting, leaving an area of life course criminology understudied and not well understood (Eggleston & Laub 2002). The purpose of this thesis is to examine the adult onset phenomenon and the correlates associated with adult onset. Before data on this issue are presented, a brief overview of the life-course perspective is presented, followed by an overview of the findings regarding adult onset.

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CHAPTER 2 LIFE-COURSE PERSPECTIVE AND THE CRIMINAL CAREER A persons life experience is shaped and defined by the multitude of events and changes that continuously occur in the lifetime (Elder 1985). The life-course perspective takes into account that a persons present condition is preceded by a lifetime of complexity and richness. In order to fully understand a single phenomenon, the past must be explored and unraveled (Elder 1985). For this reason, the two central concepts in the life-course perspective are trajectories and transitions. Trajectories are the long-term patterns and sequences in an individuals life. These are the life pathways such as marriage, parenthood, careers, self-esteem, and criminal or non-criminal behaviors. Transitions, on the other hand, occur within trajectories and are single events that are often age-graded, such as changes in societal roles or status (Elder 1985; Sampson & Laub 1992). They can include graduation, divorce, retiring, an arrest, etc. These specific life events can be so abrupt and influential that they can transform or modify life trajectories. Therefore, there is a sequence of life trajectories, transitions, and adaptations. It is the adaptation to the transitions that occur in a lifetime that can lead to changes in life trajectories. This interlocked nature of trajectories and transitions leads to the broadly accepted viewpoint of the life-course perspective that an individuals childhood is connected to adulthood experiences. From a general standpoint, life-course perspectives are concerned with the duration, timing, and ordering of transition events and their effects on long-term social development and trajectories (Sampson & Laub 1992). Therefore, this perspective attempts to explain discontinuity as well as the 3

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4 permanence of behaviors throughout the life-course (Simons, Johnson, Conger, & Elder 1998). A criminal career can be examined by using the life-course perspective. This approach is often referred to as the criminal career paradigm. According to Blumstein and colleagues (1986:12),A criminal career is the characterization of the longitudinal sequence of crimes committed by an individual offender. Criminal acts, even when organized groups commit them, are ultimately the responsibility of individuals. The criminal career paradigm, instead of focusing on aggregate rates, focuses on individuals and attempts to investigate the origins of criminal behavior. One of the goals of this perspective is to aid in developing crime control policies that would focus on interrupting or altering criminal careers (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986). There are four main components to the criminal career paradigm: participation, frequency, seriousness, and career length (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986). Participation separates those who have a criminal career to those who do not, frequency indicates the rate of criminal activity for an active offender, seriousness describes the severity of offenses, and career length describes how long the offender is actively committing crimes (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986; Piquero, Farrington, & Blumstein 2003). As previously mentioned, the life-course perspective is concerned with duration, timing, and ordering of transition events. As such, when examining the criminal career, there is focus on the timing and reason behind the onset of criminal activity, the duration or persistence of the offending, if and why the criminal activity may escalate, and why and when offenders desist from a life trajectory of crime (Piquero, Farrington, & Blumstein 2003; Farrington & Maughan 1999). Each aspect of the criminal career is

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5 important to empirically study, and can provide insight into the criminal career. However, criminal initiation, or onset, is particularly critical in that it can offer an understanding of what behaviors may generate criminality (Chu 2002). Empirical research has suggested that some of the predictors of early onset are low family income, poor child rearing skills, psychomotor impulsivity, and low verbal intelligence (Farrington et al. 1990). Research has also suggested that marital disharmony, large family size, parental criminality, and poor academic achievement or school failure are predictors or future offending (Farrington et al. 1990). Given the importance of criminal onset, this particular aspect of the criminal career paradigm has received a vast amount of interest by researchers (Piquero et al. 2003). However, most studies have focused on juvenile criminal initiation, and little research exists that pays attention to the onset of adult offenders (Eggleston & Laub 2002).

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CHAPTER 3 ONSET OF ADULT OFFENDING Although there is not a great deal of empirical research available that has exclusively focused on adult criminal onset, the phenomenon has been identified in a number of studies (Eggleston & Laub 2002). Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, and Vishers (1986) Criminal Careers and Career Criminals, an in-depth summary of longitudinal studies with available data, indicated the presence of adult criminal onset. They noticed that most of the nondelinquent juveniles did not become adult offenders, however, a considerable amount of adult offenders had not been juvenile delinquents. This result seems to be contradictive of Robins well-known statement, adult antisocial behavior virtually requires childhood antisocial behavior (1978:611). In fact, about half of adult offenders included in the Blumstein and colleagues (1986) summary did not have juvenile records: Even though juvenile delinquents are far more likely than nondelinquents to become adult offenders, 40 to 50 percent of adult offenders do not have records of juvenile police contacts: because nondelinquent juveniles greatly outnumber delinquent juveniles, even though a smaller fraction of the nondelinquents become adult offenders, their great numbers lead to a substantial contribution of adult offenders. (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986:88) In a follow up study to Delinquency in a Birth Cohort (1972), From Boy to Man, From Delinquency to Crime (1987), Wolfgang, Thornberry, and Figlio found that 24.2 percent of the sample that had committed a criminal offense were adult offenders only, with no records as juveniles. In describing the offenses of the sample, the researchers state: 6

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7 In terms of the characteristics of offenses committed, we have seen that the juvenile-only and adult-only offenders committed approximately the same number of offenses, but that the persistent offenders committed far more. In terms of seriousness, though, the most harmful offenses were those committed by the adult group, followed in descending order by those committed by the persistent offenders and then the juvenile offenders. (Wolfgang, Thornberry, & Figlio 1987: 32) When the researchers examined the distributions of ages of initiation to delinquency and to criminal behavior, they found that 16 years was the modal age for criminal onset. However, they did discover onset in the age range from18-22, although less than in the younger age categories, and a negligible number of subjects entering the criminal population after age 22 (Wolfgang, Thornberry, & Figlio 1987: 37). Nonetheless, while the researchers report a small and negligible quantity of individuals whose onset to criminal activity and delinquency occurred between ages 18-22 and after the age of 22, these subjects with adult onset still comprise 24 percent of those who were arrested in the sample. A study in Sweden (Stattin, Magnusson, & Reichel 1989), using official record data that followed a subject population from age 10 to age 30, set out to provide basic descriptive information about the criminal activity of the sample at different ages. They found that the peak age for criminal onset for the male subjects in the sample was 15 years of age. However, one in four of the men who had a criminal record in the sample were first registered for an offense after the age of 20 years. This same study found that the female subjects in the sample tended to first engage in criminal activity later in life than the male subjects in the study. They found that the peak age for criminal onset for the female subjects in the sample was 21-23 years of age. In an effort to compare criminal career characteristics of two male cohorts born in different time periods in the same area of South London, Farrington and Maughan (1999)

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8 used the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development and the Inner London Study. The Cambridge Study provided a male cohort sample born between September 1952 and August 1954, and the Inner London Study offered a male cohort sample born between September 1959 and August 1960. When examining the distribution of age at first conviction within the samples, this study detected significant adult onset. For the Cambridge cohort, Farrington and Maughan report that 20 per 100 subjects obtained their first conviction in the age bracket 10-16, 10 per 100 in ages 17-20, and seven per 100 in ages 21-33. For the Inner London cohort, they report that 15 per 100 of the male subjects obtained their first conviction in the age brackets of 10-16 and 17-20, and like the Cambridge cohort, seven per 100 acquired their first conviction during the ages of 21-33. An exploratory study of Chinese male prisoners conducted by Chu (2002) concentrates on investigating the life experiences and criminal initiations, or onset, of the prisoners. This study is unique for two reasons. The first is that is uses self-report questionnaires, and the second is that it applies the criminal career paradigm to a setting outside of western nations. The results suggest that criminal onset for the sample of Chinese male prisoners is later in life than that for prisoners in western nations. The peak age of criminal initiation was shown to be between the ages of 18 and 19 years. Chinese prisoners in the sample who were incarcerated for violent crimes and were then currently in prison for a minimum of a second prison term had an average age of onset of 22.23 years, and also had a peak age of onset between 18 and 19 years of age. Another study that specifically focuses on adult onset offenders is that of Eggleston and Laub (2002). Motivated by the understudied topical area of adult criminal onset, they first set out to explore if an adult onset offender actually exists. They first closely

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9 examine the existing literature, and from that made the observation that the adult onset offender should be systematically studied as a population among adult offenders in general (Eggleston & Laub 2002: 605). Using the 1942 and 1949 birth cohort data from Racine, WI, the researchers investigated whether the correlates of crime are different for adult offenders with juvenile records than for those adult offenders who do not have juvenile records. The sample consisted of both male and female subjects, and the data was collected using both records of official police contacts as well as the original interviews. The sample was comprised of 61.2 percent non-offenders, 14.3 percent juvenile only offenders, 11.3 percent adult only offenders, and 13.1 percent persistent offenders. The researchers found that, adult onset was not a rare event (Eggleston & Laub 2002: 612) in the Racine, WI sample. In general, this study suggests that the predictor variables for adult offenders with a juvenile onset and those with an adult onset are quite similar. Race, gender, socioeconomic status, and family size all had significant effects on adult offending for those with and without a delinquent past. On the other hand, single parent households and parental crime did not have significant effects on adult offending for either group. Employment was the only variable in this study that affected the probability of offending differently for juvenile onset offenders and adult onset offenders. The variable had no effect on adult offending for those with juvenile onset; however, continuous employment increased the probability of offending for those with late onset. Although Eggleston and Laubs research results seem to imply that late onset offenders may not need to be analyzed separately from persistent offenders (2002: 613), the researchers encourage further investigation in this neglected research area:

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10 these findings should not preclude further investigation of adult onset offenders. The adult onset population is a neglected dimension of criminological research and to remedy this fact, future research should compare early versus late onset offenders using the definition of late onset offending after the peak offending years of adolescence. (Eggleston & Laub 2002:613) Some of the suggestions for future research presented in this study include using higher level of variation in the independent variables, a sample from a larger city such as Philadelphia (Eggleston & Laub 2002: 613), and a more current population sample. While there are a few exceptions, it is important to note that the majority of research that examines the criminal career uses official indicators when establishing age of criminal initiation, or onset. This methodological approach has both advantages as well as disadvantages. While official records can provide the advantage of higher accuracy in regards to timing and the type of offense, they also have the disadvantage of not detecting those individuals who have offended but were not caught and documented by official sources (Eggleston & Laub 2002). This particular disadvantage of using official indicators for establishing criminal initiation is at the root of the controversy regarding the existence of adult onset as well as the value of empirically examining the phenomenon (Eggleston & Laub 2002). Research on criminal initiation, or onset, has received extensive empirical consideration (Piquero, Farrington, & Blumstein 2003). However, the majority of research currently available is directed towards juvenile onset offenders and, for the most part, disregards adult onset. This offender category continues to be discounted or labeled insignificant, although adult onset offenders have been empirically recognized in numerous studies. Some research even suggests that adult onset offenders account for approximately 50 percent of all adult offenders (Eggleston & Laub 2002; Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986). While conflicting views regarding the existence of adult

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11 onset offenders as well the value of studying this population exist, the number of adult onset offenders appears to be non-negligible. As such, the empirical study of adult onset, though a neglected area of criminology, needs to be further investigated and developed, as encouraged and suggested by Eggleston and Laub (2002). In this study, we first focus on whether or not adult onset exists, and if so, what factors account for adult onset. In addition, we also explore whether there are gender differences in the prevalence and predictors of late onset. For example, prior research has suggested that females are more likely than males to have late criminal onset (Kratzer & Hodgins 1999). Secondly, by applying a variety of independent variables, this study examines whether correlates of crime with adult onset can be established, and if so, if these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of criminal initiators such as nonoffenders, desisters, and persisters. As such, we explore whether we can predict adult criminal onset, and whether the factors that relate to adult onset among males are similar to or different from the factors relating to adult onset among females. The current study has several points of distinction, and fulfills many of the research suggestions for investigating adult onset offenders presented by Eggleston and Laub (2002). The researchers point out that, among the methods to increase the power in a study is to have a high level of variation in the independent variables (Eggleston & Laub 2002: 613). The current study will use an array of independent variables, and these measures contain adequate variability. In describing a limitation in their own study, Eggleston and Laub (2002:613) state the following:

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12 the Racine data set is skewed toward less serious offenses compared to larger cities, such as Philadelphia. Therefore, an analysis of different cities with higher percentages of more serious offenses may produce different results from those found in the present study. The data used in the current study is from the Philadelphia portion of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project (Niswander & Gordon 1972), which is not only based in a larger city than Racine, WI, it is also the precise city recommended by Eggleston and Laub. The data in the current research consists of an all Black sample, and has both female and male subjects. Eggleston and Laubs (2002) research on adult onset offenders did not find any distinction in the effect of gender on adult offending for those with juvenile onset or adult onset. However, they note, that this population deserves to be systematically investigated (2002:614). The current research effort will examine if there is a gender effect in the existence of adult onset as well as for the predictive variables of adult onset. Finally, Eggleston and Laub remark that, More contemporary samples may also provide insight into the adult onset phenomenon (2002: 614). The present study may be able to fulfill this recommendation, because it uses a sample born a few years later than the sample in the Racine, WI, data set and followed (in adult official records) up through 1998.

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CHAPTER 4 DATA This research effort utilizes data from the Philadelphia portion of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project (NCPP) (Niswander & Gordon 1972). The NCPP was a large-scale medical project carried out at a number of university-related hospitals with an aim to collect information on birth defects, neurological conditions, birth complications, and familial and socioeconomic conditions. The participants were infants of mothers who took part in the NCPP and, therefore, reflect the characteristics of families who would be interested in receiving low-cost maternity care provided by a public clinic at Pennsylvania Hospital (Denno 1990). In Philadelphia, the sample included nearly 10,000 pregnant patients who delivered their children at Pennsylvania Hospital between the years 1959 and 1965. The sample on which the present research is based includes 987 participants who were chosen from the first four cohorts (1959-1962) of 2,958 African American mothers who took part in the NCPP. It is these 987 participants who were followed by the original research team at the University of Pennsylvania. Comparisons between the sample of 987 participants and the excluded sample indicated no significant differences in key variables (Denno 1990). A plethora of information related to mother and the infant participant were collected by teams of doctors, psychologists, and public health officials across all NCPP sites. The information included several measures associated with the mothers pregnancy, information relating to the birth of the child, as well as important psychological and sociological indicators collected through ages 7/8. In the early 1980s, a research team 13

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14 from the University of Pennsylvania collected information related to school functioning and criminal history information, including all police contacts through age 17. Numerous studies have been performed with the age 17 criminal history data (Denno 1990; Gibson, Piquero, & Tibbetts 2000, 2001; Piquero 2000a, 2000b, 2001; Piquero & Chung 2001; Piquero & Tibbetts 1999; Tibbetts & Piquero 1999). In the summer of 1998, a criminal history follow-up was completed for all 987 participants of the Philadelphia sample (Piquero & White 2003). The Philadelphia Police Department served as the data source for offenses committed by the cohort after reaching the legal adult status of age 18. Adult criminal history data, in the form of conviction, are available through July 1998 or through age 36 for those sample members born into the 1962 cohort and age 39 for those born into the 1959 cohort. Detailed data were collected on the date and type of each conviction. The Philadelphia Police Department also has an extensive alias-tracking system that enables the cross listing of names and social security numbers. Variables Both maternal age at childbirth (0 = 18 and older, 1 = less than 18) and maternal marital status at childbirth (0 = married, 1 = single or unmarried) were retrieved from medical records. Socioeconomic status (SES) was measured across all NCPP sites by a single-item general SES score that is a multipart measure of three indicators collected at 7 years of age for each participating child: education of head of household, income of head of household, and occupation of head of household (Myrianthopoulos & French 1968). Maternal cigarette smoking was assessed during pregnancy. Mothers were asked to self-report the average number of cigarettes they smoked each day. Although, originally, this variable was coded continuously, for this research effort, we code this variable

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15 dichotomously (0=mother did not smoke, 1=mother smoked). The variable for mothers changes in marital status is coded continuously. The participants sex was coded as 1 = male, 2 = female. The NCPP includes several different measures of cognitive abilities, and two are included for this analysis. The first is the digit span component of the WISC verbal scale, measured at age seven/eight. The WISC, because it measures both intellective and non-intellective traits, was described as one of the most psychometrically trustworthy measures of intellectual performance in children (Caspi, Harkness, Moffitt, & Silva 1996) and was one of the most popular tests of executive deficits (Lynam, Moffitt, & Stouthamer-Loeber 1993). For the NCPP, the shorter form of the WISC was utilized and Lezak (1983) had shown that the longer and shorter forms of the WISC were functionally comparable. The digit span test of the WISC was designed to assess attention span and short-term memory, two of the major features of neuropsychological functioning/cognitive abilities (Moffitt 1997). Several scholars argued, and some demonstrated, that the WISC was actually more a measure of neuropsychological variation than it was of intelligence or IQ (Moffitt 1997; Moffitt et al. 1994; Piquero 2001; Seguin, Phil, Harden, Tremblay, & Boulerice 1995). The second measure of cognitive abilities is the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT). The CAT was designed for the measurement, evaluation, and analysis of school achievement, and its emphasis was upon content and objectives in the basic curricular areas of reading, mathematics, and language (Tiegs & Clark 1970). Originally, this test was used in California schools to assess academic achievement and produced total scores in the academic areas of reading, mathematics, language, and

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16 overall academic achievement. The total battery score, which was used as the second measure of cognitive abilities, reflected a students standing in terms of total achievement level. In the Philadelphia NCPP, the level four CAT for grades seven and eight (ages twelve to fourteen) was used. The CAT, in general, was highly praised in terms of its validity, comprehensive test and interpretive materials, reliability, and standardization procedures (Denno 1990). For offending through age 17, a research team from the University of Pennsylvania collected information related to criminal history, including all police contacts (Denno 1990). For data beginning at age 18 through the follow-up period, data in the form of convictions were obtained from the Philadelphia Police Department (Piquero, Gibson, Tibbetts, Turner, & Katz 2002; Piquero & White 2003). Individuals who did not exhibit a police contact prior to age 18, but did have at least one conviction after age 18 were considered adult onset offenders. Analytic Plan The current research is motivated by two specific questions: Does adult onset exist, and if so, can it be explained by several individual and familial indicators that have been found in prior research to be related to criminal offending. The first portion of the analysis examines the data to determine if adult onset emerges in the Philadelphia sample, and if so, whether there are gender differences in this population. Then, using the constellation of familial and individual variables described earlier, we apply those indicators to predict adult offending. In addition to predicting adult offender status, we also examine the total number of adult offenses in order to distinguish between one-time adult offenders and recidivistic adult offenders. Four models will be estimated; one will compare adult onset offenders to everyone else in the sample, the second will compare

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17 adult onset offenders to nonoffenders, the third model with will compare adult onset offenders to those who offended as juveniles and then desisted, and the fourth model will compare adult onset offenders to those who offended both as juveniles and adults.

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CHAPTER 5 RESULTS We begin by examining whether adult criminal onset exists. The sample population was organized into four different groups of offenders, based on whether their age of first police contact occurred during the juvenile years or as an adult. Specifically, those individuals who never offended were categorized as nonoffenders (n = 689). Individuals who do not have police contact in the adolescent years, but do have a conviction in the adult years are categorized as adult onset offenders (n = 78). Those individuals who had a police contact as juvenile, but did not have a conviction in the adult years are categorized as desisters (n = 144). Finally, those individuals who had a police contact as a juvenile and an adult conviction were categorized as persisters (n = 76). In sum, there appears to be a non negligible amount of adult onset in the Philadelphia NCPP data. In the next section, we examine the correlates associated with this adult onset, and compare adult onsetters to different types of offenders. Models The first model compares adult onset offenders to everyone else in the sample. Because we are interested in discriminating between two groups, logistic regression is employed in this model, as well as for the other four models. This first full model is shown in Table 1. Three variables in the full model were statistically significant; the participants sex, maternal cigarette smoking, and the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT). The effect for sex was negative and significant, indicating that female participants were less likely to be adult onset offenders than male participants. In 18

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19 terms of maternal cigarette smoking, those participants who had mothers that smoked during their pregnancy were more likely to have an adult criminal onset than those participants whose mothers did not smoke. The final significant variable in the full model, the CAT score, indicates that those individuals who had higher total battery scores on the California Achievement Test were less likely to be adult onset offenders than those who had lower scores. None of the other variables in the full model were statistically significant. Male and female estimates predicting adult onset offenders compared to everyone else in the sample are also shown in Table 1. As can be seen, two coefficients are significant among males, but there are no significant coefficients among females. Specifically, males whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to incur an adult criminal onset than those male participants whose mother did not smoke during pregnancy. Also, males who had higher total battery scores on the California Achievement Test were less likely to be adult onset offenders than those male participants who had lower scores. Among females, there were no statistically significant variables. For the second model, adult onset offenders were compared to nonoffenders. This second full model is shown in Table 2. The statistically significant variables in the full model are the same significant variables observed in the first full model. For sex, male participants were more likely to be adult onset offenders than female participants. As in the first full model, those participants who had mothers that smoked during their pregnancy were

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Table 1. Adult Onset Compared to All Other Sample Members 20 Variables Full Model B SE (B) Wald Exp (B) Variables Male B SE (B) Wald Exp (B) Variables Female B SE(B) Wald Exp (B) Sex -1.404 .294 22.74* .246 SES score .006 .007 .617 1.006 SES score .004 .008 .275 1.004 SES score .009 .017 .275 1.009 Mothers Age -.137 .388 .125 .872 MothersAge .021 .413 .002 1.021 MothersAge -6.561 21.39 .094 .001 Marital Status .036 .283 .017 1.037 MaritalStatus .222 .316 .493 1.248 MaritalStatus -.960 .807 1.417 .383 Changes in Marital Status .004 .006 .568 1.004 Changes inMarital Status .002 .007 .050 1.002 Changes inMarital Status .018 .012 2.144 1.018 Smoke .504 .250 4.070* 1.655 Smoke .785 .290 7.307* 2.193 Smoke -.418 .522 .641 .659 WISC .014 .013 1.241 1.014 WISC .020 .015 1.929 1.021 WISC -.005 .029 .033 .995 CAT -.015 .007 4.485* .985 CAT -.017 .008 4.122* .983 CAT -.010 .014 .544 .990 Constant -2.025 1.256 2.598 .132 Constant -4.143 1.36 9.284 .016 Constant -2.543 2.538 1.004 .079 Chi-square/ df 43.88/ 8 Chi-square/df 14.56/ 7 Chi-square/ df 8.653/ 7 (p < .05)

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21 more likely to be adult onset offenders than those participants whose mothers did not smoke during the pregnancy. This model also indicated that those individuals who had a higher total battery score on the California Achievement Test were less likely to be adult onset offenders. Similar to the first full model, none of the other variables in the second full model were statistically significant. Male and female estimates predicting adult onset offenders compared to nonoffenders are also shown in Table 2. As can be seen, two coefficients are significant among males, but there are no significant coefficients among females. Specifically, males whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to incur an adult criminal onset than those male participants whose mother did not smoke during pregnancy. Also, males who had higher total battery scores on the California Achievement Test were less likely to be adult onset offenders than those male participants who had lower scores. Among females, there were no statistically significant variables. The third model compared adult onset offenders to those who offended as juveniles, but not as adults. The full model is shown in Table 3. In this estimate, only the variable sex was significant. Female participants were less likely to be adult onset offenders, and more likely to have only offended as juveniles. Male and female estimates predicting adult onset offenders compared to desisters are also shown in Table 3. As can be seen, one coefficient is significant among males, and no coefficients were shown to be significant among females. Males whose mother smoked during pregnancy were more likely to acquire adult criminal onset than those male participants whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy.

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Table 2. Adult Onset Compared to Non-offenders 22 Variables Full Model B SE (B) Wald Exp (B) Variables Male B SE (B) Wald Exp (B) Variables Female B SE(B) Wald Exp (B) Sex -1.681 .298 31.91* .186 SES score .005 .007 .504 1.005 SES score .004 .008 .194 1.004 SES score .010 .017 .354 1.010 Mothers Age -.247 .403 .374 .782 MothersAge -.120 .436 .075 .887 MothersAge -6.664 23.04 .084 .001 Marital Status .159 .296 .289 1.172 MaritalStatus .392 .338 1.345 1.479 MaritalStatus -1.041 .831 1.568 .353 Changes in Marital Status .004 .006 .357 1.004 Changes inMarital Status .000 .007 .000 1.000 Changes inMarital Status .023 .013 3.130 1.023 Smoke .520 .258 4.079* 1.683 Smoke .822 .303 7.387* 2.276 Smoke -.477 .528 .816 .620 WISC .019 .013 2.082 1.019 WISC .025 .015 2.623 1.025 WISC -.008 .029 .084 .992 CAT -.021 .013 8.223* .979 CAT -.024 .009 7.265* .977 CAT -.012 .014 .814 .988 Constant -1.602 1.267 1.599 .201 Constant -3.954 1.39 8.069 .019 Constant -2.106 2.463 .731 .122 Chi-square/ df 62.25/ 8 Chi-square/df 20.228/ 7 Chi-square/df 9.505/ 7 (p < .05)

PAGE 30

Table 3. Adult Onset Compared to Desisters 23 Variables Full Model B SE (B) Wald Exp (B) Variables Male B SE (B) Wald Exp (B) Variables Female B SE(B) Wald Exp (B) Sex -.913 .345 6.992* .401 SES score .007 .008 .604 1.007 SES score .000 .010 .000 1.000 SES score .021 .018 1.407 1.022 Mothers Age -.179 .478 .141 .836 MothersAge .014 .545 .001 1.014 MothersAge -6.577 24.33 .073 .001 Marital Status -.280 .345 .656 .756 MaritalStatus -.150 .399 .142 .861 MaritalStatus -.758 .853 .790 .468 Changes in Marital Status .013 .008 2.277 1.013 Changes inMarital Status .014 .013 1.294 1.014 Changes inMarital Status .007 .014 .223 1.007 Smoke .435 .302 2.073 1.545 Smoke .726 .354 4.207* 2.067 Smoke -.193 .628 .095 .824 WISC .010 .017 .356 1.010 WISC .014 .019 .550 1.014 WISC .014 .041 .124 1.015 CAT -.007 .008 .734 .993 CAT -.014 .010 1.972 .986 CAT .001 .017 .006 1.001 Constant -.593 1.650 .129 .553 Constant -1.735 1.73 1.003 .176 Constant -3.032 3.614 .704 .048 Chi-square/ df 15.046/ 8 Chi-square/df 8.592/ 7 Chi-square/ df 7.317/ 7 (p < .05)

PAGE 31

24 Model four compared adult onset offenders to those who offended both as juveniles and adults. No variables were found statistically discriminate among these two groups of offenders in either the full model estimates or in the male and female estimates. Model five compared adult onset offenders with one conviction to those adult onset offenders with more than one conviction. No variables were found statistically significant among these two groups in either the full model estimates or in the male and female estimates. Discussion In this study, we explored the adult criminal onset phenomenon. We first examined whether adult onset exists in the Philadelphia NCPP data, as well as which correlates of criminal activity were associated with adult onset. Further, we sought to investigate whether these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of individuals, nonoffenders and offenders, including desisters and persisters. Three key findings emerged from our analysis. First, females are less likely than males to be adult onset offenders. This result is interesting in that it is inconsistent with prior research that suggests females are more likely than males to be adult onset offenders (Kratzer & Hodgins 1999). Second, participants who had mothers that smoked cigarettes during pregnancy were more likely to be adult onset offenders than nonoffenders. Prior research has suggested a relationship between maternal cigarette smoking and persistent offending (Piquero et al. 2002), but this is the first study that we are aware of that links maternal cigarette smoking to offspring criminality after the age of eighteen (without evidence of juvenile criminality). It is possible that the variable, maternal cigarette smoking is actually a proxy for other factors that may contribute to criminality. For example, one possibility is that the variable could be a stand-in for the mothers lifestyle,

PAGE 32

25 socioeconomic status, or a poor care indicator. Another possibility is that maternal cigarette smoking is a proxy for neurological problems. Thirdly, participants who had higher scores on the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were less likely to be adult onset offenders. This particular finding shows the preventative effects of cognitive abilities in deterring criminal activity. While sex and the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were statistically significant in most models, it is important to emphasize that sex is more substantively significant than the variable CAT. In total, our results show that it is important for criminal career researchers to continue to delve into the area of adult onset offenders, and to persist in the exploration of the correlates of crime that may predict this type of criminal initiator. Specifically, results from our effort suggest that there are factors that may predict adult criminal onset, and that these correlates may be similar to those predictors of other categories of criminal offenders. In the end, our results corroborate recent research by Eggleston and Laub (2002) regarding the importance of studying adult onset and contradict contentions from other researchers that adult onset is a rare phenomenon, one that is ill deserving of research attention (see Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990; Moffitt et al.,2001). To be sure, our research effort has limitations that need to be acknowledged, and that lead us to outline several important directions for future research. First, our study used an entirely African American sample. While there is some existing research on adult criminal onset that explores racial differences, future research should more critically examine whether adult onset patterns differ across race/ethnicity, and whether the correlates associated with adult onset differ according to race as well. Second, our study,

PAGE 33

26 as well as other research on adult onset, used data collected from official records. Focus should be placed on expanding the understanding of adult criminal onset by analyzing the phenomenon using both official records as well as self-report data (Eggleston & Laub 2002). Third, the age range available in the data limited our current effort, as we only had information up to ages 33 through 39. Future research should continue to investigate late onset using data sources with information on older participants. More specifically, future research may want to explore adult criminal onset with data containing information on offenders over the age of 55 years, as prior studies have suggested that a significant portion of senior offenders have no prior criminal records (Aday 2003). Finally, our study was limited in that we did not have available variables on negative adult transitions. Adult drug use and/or dependencies, troubled marriages or divorce, and other adult transitions may be factors to consider when examining adult criminal onset. The area of adult criminal onset in criminology might also be further illuminated by the insights of Ferraros gerontological imagination, in which he emphasizes the importance of chronological age (Ferraro 1997). He also calls attention to the many components of the ageing process that is filled with transitions, advantages, and disadvantages. According to Ferraro, the age of an individual is a key variable to consider because it identifies a cohort location. This is important, in that a cohort can be used as an indication of the shared experiences of people born within the same time period (Mills & Edwards 2002). Research on adult criminal onset might also be informed by Arnetts (2000) concept of emerging adulthood. This new theory of development argues that in modern industrialized societies, individuals between the ages of 18 to 25 are not adolescents or

PAGE 34

27 young adults. Instead, Arnett believes that this time period of life is a distinct developmental period, with distinctive life transitions and experiences for those that fall within this category (Arnett 2000). It may be that life transitions and experiences incurred during emerging adulthood relate in unique ways to adult onset. This research effort, as well as preceding research, has indicated that adult onset offenders do exist. This, in itself, has policy implications. Our society is currently aging, and the adult and senior populations will continue to grow (Aday 2003). Understanding adult onset offending may inevitably become an important aspect of both crime control policies as well as the correctional system. Life-course transitions can be age-graded and accompany the aging process and adulthood. Certain transitions in the life-course are linked to behaviors that could incorporate criminality. These transitions are often changes in societal roles and status. For example, as a senior, an individual may have a sudden need for healthcare and prescription medicines. Transitions can often be abrupt and influential, changing the behaviors of the individual. For this reason, providing societal cushions for adult life transitions, such as national healthcare and prescription benefits, could be a strategy used to control and alleviate the onset of negative adult behaviors, such as adult onset offending. In sum, while criminal onset is a highly researched area in life-course criminology, the traditional focus on onset has been on juvenile offenders. As a consequence, adult onset offending has not received adequate attention in the field, and the factors related to this type of criminal initiator are understudied and neglected. Since the current study, as well as previous empirical research, has identified factors that may be associated with adult criminal onset, continuing research in the area of adult onset offending can only

PAGE 35

28 enhance our knowledge of the behaviors that may produce criminality over the life-course.

PAGE 36

LIST OF REFERENCES Aday, Ronald H. (2003). Aging prisoners: crisis in American corrections. Westport, CT: Praeger. Arnett, J.J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: a theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55, 469-480. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., Roth, J., & Visher, C. (1986). Criminal careers and career criminals. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Caspi, A., Harkness, A.R., Moffitt, T.E., & Silva, P.A. (1996). Intellectual performance: continuity and change. In P.A. Silva & W.R. Stanton (Eds.), From child to adult: The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (pp. 59-74). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Chu, M.M. (2002). Incarcerated Chinese men: their life experiences and criminal onset. British Journal of Criminology, Delinquency, and Deviant Social Behavior, 42, 250-266. Denno, D. (1990). Biology and violence: from birth to adulthood. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Eggleston, E.P., & Laub, J.H. (2002). The onset of adult offending: a neglected dimension of the criminal career. Journal of Criminal Justice, 30, 603-622. Elder, G.H., Jr. (1985). Time, human agency, and social change: perspectives on the life course. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57, 4-15. Farrington, D.P., Loeber, R., Elliott, D.S., Hawkins, J.D., Kandel, D.B., Klein, M.W., McCord, J., Rowe, D.C., & Tremblay, R.E. (1990). Advancing knowledge about the onset of delinquency and crime. In Lahey, B.B., & Kazdin, A.E. (ed.), Advances in Clinical Child Psychology, 13 (pp. 283-332). New York: Plenum Press. Ferraro, K.F. (1997). Gerontology perspectives and Issues, 2 nd edition. New York: Springer. Farrington, D.P. (1986).Age and crime. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: An annual review of research, volume 7 (pp.189-250). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 29

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30 Farrington, D.P, & Maughan, B. (1999). Criminal careers of two London cohorts. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 9 (1), 91-106. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2000). Uniform crime reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2001). Uniform crime reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2002). Uniform crime reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Gibson, C.L., Piquero, A.R., & Tibbetts, S.G. (2000). Assessing the relationship between maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy and age at first police contact. Justice Quarterly, 17, 519-542. Gibson, C.L., Piquero, A.R., & Tibbetts, S.G. (2001). The contribution of family adversity and verbal IQ to criminal behavior. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45, 574-592. Gottfredson, M.R. & T. Hirschi. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Kratzer, L., & Hodgins, S. (1999). A typology of offenders: A test of Moffitts theory among males and females from childhood to age 30. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 9, 57-73. Lezak, M.D. (1983). Neuropsychological assessment. New York: Oxford University Press. Lynam, D., Moffitt, T.E., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1993). Explaining the relationship between IQ and delinquency: Class, race, test motivation, school failure and selfcontrol. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 187-196. Mills, T.L., & Edwards, C.D.A. (2002). A critical review of research on the mental health status of older African-Americans. Aging & Society, 22, 273-304. Moffitt, T.E. (1997). Neuropsychology, antisocial behavior, and neighborhood context. In J. McCord (Ed.), Violence and childhood in the inner city (pp. 116-170). New York: Cambridge University Press. Moffitt, T.E., Caspi, A., Rutter, M. and Silva, P.A. (2001). Sex differences in antisocial behaviour: Conduct disorder, delinquency, and violence in the Dunedin Longitudinal Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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31 Moffitt, T.E., Lynam, D.R., & Sylva, P.A. (1994). Neuropsychological tests predicting persistent male delinquency. Criminology, 32, 277-300. Myrianthopoulos, N.C., & French, K.S. (1968). An application of the U.S. bureau of the census socioeconomic index to a large, diversified patient population. Social Science and Medicine, 2, 283-299. Niswander, K., & Gordon, M. (1972). The women and their pregnancies. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Piquero, A.R. (2000a). Assessing the relationships between gender, chronicity, seriousness, and offense skewness in criminal offending. Journal of Criminal Justice, 28, 103-116. Piquero, A.R. (2000b). Frequency, specialization and violence in offending careers. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 37, 392-418. Piquero, A.R. (2001). Testing Moffitts neuropsychological variation hypothesis for the prediction of life-course persistent offending. Psychology, Crime, and Law, 7, 193-216. Piquero, A. R., & Chung, H.L. (2001). On the relationships between gender, early onset, and the seriousness of offending. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29, 189-206. Piquero, A. R., Farrington, D.P., & Blumstein, A. (2003). The criminal career paradigm: background and recent developments. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, 30, Edited by Michael Tonry, 359-506. Piquero, A.R., Gibson, C.L., Tibbetts, S.G., Turner, M.G., & Katz, S.H. (2002). Maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy and life-course-persistent offending. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 46, 231-248. Piquero, A.R., & Tibbetts, S.G. (1999). The impact of pre/perinatal disturbances and disadvantaged familial environment in predicting criminal offending. Studies on Crime and Crime Prevention, 8, 52-70. Piquero, A.R., & White, N.A. (2003). On the relationship between cognitive abilities and life-course-persistent offending among a sample of African Americans: A longitudinal test of Moffitts hypothesis. Journal of Criminal Justice, 31, 399409. Robins, L. (1978). Sturdy childhood predictors of adult antisocial behaviour: replications from longitudinal studies. Psychological Medicine, 8, 611-627. Sampson, R.J., & Laub, J.H. (1992). Crime and deviance in the life course. Annual Review of Sociology, 18, 63-84.

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32 Seguin, J.R., Phil, R.O., Harden, P.W., Tremblay, R.E., & Boulerice, B. (1995). Cognitive and neuropsychological characteristics of physically aggressive boys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 614-624. Simons, R.L., Johnson, C., Conger, R.D., & Elder, G., Jr. (1998). A test of latent trait versus life-course perspectives on the stability of adolescent antisocial behavior. Criminology, 36 (2), 217-242. Stattin, H., Magnusson, D., & Reichel, H. (1989). Criminal activity at different ages: a study based on a Swedish longitudinal research population. British Journal of Criminology, 29, 368-385. Tibbetts, S.G., & Piquero, A.R. (1999). The influence of gender, low birth weight, and disadvantaged environment in predicting early onset of offending: A test of Moffitts interactional hypothesis. Criminology, 37, 843-877. Tiegs, E.W., & Clark, W.W. (1970). Examiners manual and test coordinators handbook: California achievement tests. New York: McGraw-Hill. Wolfgang, M.E., Figlio, R.M., & Sellin, T. (1972). Delinquency in a birth cohort. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wolfgang, M.E., Thornberry, T.P., & Figlio, R.M. (1987). From boy to man, from delinquency to crime. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Zenta Gomez-Smith was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1982. Her family moved to the United States in 1988, and eventually settled in central Florida. Zenta graduated from high school in Deland, Florida, in 1999. In 2002, Zenta received her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Stetson University. Zenta was married to Larry David Smith on June 22, 2002. Soon after, they relocated to Gainesville, Florida, in order for Zenta to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Florida. She completed her Master of Arts in criminology and law in May 2004. Currently, Zenta continues to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Florida, and is living in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Larry, and their three dogs, Major, Ito, and Junior. 33


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0004680/00001

Material Information

Title: An Examination of adult onset offending
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Gomez Smith, Zenta ( Dissertant )
Piquero, Alexis R. ( Thesis advisor )
Lanza-Kaduce, Lonn ( Reviewer )
Mills, Terry L. ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2004
Copyright Date: 2004

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Criminology and Law thesis, M.A
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Criminology and Law
Spatial Coverage: United States--California

Notes

Abstract: Criminal onset has been a highly researched area in life-course criminology; however, the majority of research has focused on juvenile offenders. As a consequence, adult onset offending has not received adequate attention in the field, and the factors related to this type of criminal initiator are understudied and neglected. In this study, we first focus on whether or not adult onset exists, and, if so, what factors account for adult onset. Secondly, by applying a variety of independent variables, this study examines whether correlates of adult onset can be established, and, if so, if these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of criminal initiators such as nonoffenders, desisters, and persisters. Three key findings emerged from our analysis. First, females are less likely than males to be adult onset offenders. Second, participants who had mothers that smoked cigarettes during pregnancy were more likely to be adult onset offenders than nonoffenders. Third, participants who had higher scores on the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were less likely to be adult onset offenders. Future directions are outlined.
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 40 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2004.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0004680:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0004680/00001

Material Information

Title: An Examination of adult onset offending
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Gomez Smith, Zenta ( Dissertant )
Piquero, Alexis R. ( Thesis advisor )
Lanza-Kaduce, Lonn ( Reviewer )
Mills, Terry L. ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2004
Copyright Date: 2004

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Criminology and Law thesis, M.A
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Criminology and Law
Spatial Coverage: United States--California

Notes

Abstract: Criminal onset has been a highly researched area in life-course criminology; however, the majority of research has focused on juvenile offenders. As a consequence, adult onset offending has not received adequate attention in the field, and the factors related to this type of criminal initiator are understudied and neglected. In this study, we first focus on whether or not adult onset exists, and, if so, what factors account for adult onset. Secondly, by applying a variety of independent variables, this study examines whether correlates of adult onset can be established, and, if so, if these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of criminal initiators such as nonoffenders, desisters, and persisters. Three key findings emerged from our analysis. First, females are less likely than males to be adult onset offenders. Second, participants who had mothers that smoked cigarettes during pregnancy were more likely to be adult onset offenders than nonoffenders. Third, participants who had higher scores on the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were less likely to be adult onset offenders. Future directions are outlined.
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 40 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2004.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0004680:00001


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AN EXAMINATION OF ADULT ONSET OFFENDING


By

ZENTA GOMEZ-SMITH













A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2004

































Copyright 2004

by

Zenta Gomez-Smith































This document is dedicated to my husband, Larry D. Smith, and to my parents, Alvaro
Gomez and Routa Kroumovitch-Gomez
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Alex Piquero, my committee chair and mentor, for his

guidance, availability, and support. I would also like to thank Dr. Lonn Lanza-Kaduce

and Dr. Terry L. Mills, my committee members, for their highly constructive comments

and suggestions that greatly enhanced the quality of my thesis.

I am very appreciative to the Department of Criminology and Law, the faculty,

staff, and graduate students. The collaborative and supportive environment has

significantly contributed to my graduate experience.

I have to show my gratitude to the "girls," for sharing the unique experiences in

graduate school, but, most of all, for all of the fun we have shared.

Finally, I would like to show my greatest appreciation to my husband, Larry D.

Smith, to my parents, Routa Kroumovitch-Gomez and Alvaro Gomez, and to my sister,

Gaida Gomez. It is through their love, support, and encouragement that I have been able

to become the person that I am.






















TABLE OF CONTENTS


page


ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. .................... iv


LI ST OF T ABLE S ................. ................. vi......... ...


AB STRAC T ................ .............. vii


INTRODUCTION .............. ...............1.....


LIFE-COURSE PERSPECTIVE AND THE CRIMINAL CAREER ................. ...............3


ONSET OF ADULT OFFENDING .............. ...............6.....


D A TA .............. ...............13....


V ariabl es ................ ................. 14..............

Analytic Plan .............. ...............16....


RE SULT S .............. ...............18....


M odel s .............. ...............18....
Discussion ................. ...............24.................


LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............29........... ....


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............. ...............33....

















LIST OF TABLES

Table pg

1. Adult Onset Compared to All Other Sample Members ................ .......................20

2. Adult Onset Compared to Non-offenders ................. ...............22...............

3. Adult Onset Compared to Desisters- .........._ ..... ._ ....__ ...............23
















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

AN EXAMINATION OF ADULT ONSET OFFENDING

By

Zenta Gomez-Smith

May 2004

Chair: Alex Piquero
Major Department: Criminology and Law

Criminal onset has been a highly researched area in life-course criminology;

however, the majority of research has focused on juvenile offenders. As a consequence,

adult onset offending has not received adequate attention in the Hield, and the factors

related to this type of criminal initiator are understudied and neglected. In this study, we

first focus on whether or not adult onset exists, and, if so, what factors account for adult

onset. Secondly, by applying a variety of independent variables, this study examines

whether correlates of adult onset can be established, and, if so, if these correlates are the

same or similar for other categories of criminal initiators such as nonoffenders, desisters,

and persisters. Three key findings emerged from our analysis. First, females are less

likely than males to be adult onset offenders. Second, participants who had mothers that

smoked cigarettes during pregnancy were more likely to be adult onset offenders than

nonoffenders. Third, participants who had higher scores on the total battery score of the

California Achievement Test (CAT) were less likely to be adult onset offenders. Future

directions are outlined.















CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

Research on adult criminal onset is frequently regarded as unnecessary due to the

long established belief that adult criminals are most often grown juvenile delinquents. In

general, both to researchers and to policymakers, it seems as though crime is associated

with younger persons (Aday 2003). This belief is most likely rooted in two pieces of

time-honored criminological knowledge. The first is that adolescents are

disproportionately accountable for crime (Farrington 1986). The second is the largely

accepted finding concerning aggregate patterns of the age-crime curve, which describe

crime rates as reaching their highest points in the late adolescent years and subsequently

declining with age (Sampson & Laub 1992). Consequently, the majority of research

available on both the onset of criminal careers and broader crime is focused on younger

populations. Research on adult offending, and, more specifically, adult criminal onset, is

therefore less common and under-explored in the field of criminology (Sampson & Laub

1992). However, this is not to say that adults offend less often than juveniles, or that

adult criminal onset has not been recognized in empirical research. Adult offenders are

consistently responsible for the maj ority of arrests in the United States (Federal Bureau of

Investigation 2000,2001,2002), and adult criminal onset has indeed been identified in

several criminological longitudinal studies (Eggleston & Laub 2002).

Nonetheless, the results of these studies do not come without debate. The

occurrence of adult criminal onset is often blamed on the use of official records or is

disregarded as an infrequent phenomenon, and described as "negligible" or "rare"









(Wolfgang, Thornberry, & Figlio 1987; Moffitt et al. 2001). For example, Terrie Moffitt

and colleagues (2001) state that "onset of antisocial behaviour after adolescence is

extremely rare," and believe that the studies that have found significant amounts of adult

onset are faulted by their use of official records instead of self-reports. The argument is

that criminal or deviant behaviors taking place in the adolescent or childhood years that

go undetected and are not officially documented will not be accounted for in the studies

that use official records instead of self-report interviews or questionnaires. Hence, while

adult onset has only been examined in few studies, the research Eindings are conflicting,

leaving an area of life course criminology understudied and not well understood

(Eggleston & Laub 2002).

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the adult onset phenomenon and the

correlates associated with adult onset. Before data on this issue are presented, a brief

overview of the life-course perspective is presented, followed by an overview of the

Endings regarding adult onset.















CHAPTER 2
LIFE-COURSE PERSPECTIVE AND THE CRIMINAL CAREER

A person's life experience is shaped and defined by the multitude of events and

changes that continuously occur in the lifetime (Elder 1985). The life-course perspective

takes into account that a person's present condition is preceded by a lifetime of

complexity and richness. In order to fully understand a single phenomenon, the past must

be explored and unraveled (Elder 1985). For this reason, the two central concepts in the

life-course perspective are traj ectories and transitions. Traj ectories are the long-term

patterns and sequences in an individual's life. These are the life pathways such as

marriage, parenthood, careers, self-esteem, and criminal or non-criminal behaviors.

Transitions, on the other hand, occur within traj ectories and are single events that are

often age-graded, such as changes in societal roles or status (Elder 1985; Sampson &

Laub 1992). They can include graduation, divorce, retiring, an arrest, etc. These specific

life events can be so abrupt and influential that they can transform or modify life

traj ectories. Therefore, there is a sequence of life traj ectories, transitions, and

adaptations. It is the adaptation to the transitions that occur in a lifetime that can lead to

changes in life traj ectories. This interlocked nature of traj ectories and transitions leads to

the broadly accepted viewpoint of the life-course perspective that an individual's

childhood is connected to adulthood experiences. From a general standpoint, life-course

perspectives are concerned with the duration, timing, and ordering of transition events

and their effects on long-term social development and traj ectories (Sampson & Laub

1992). Therefore, this perspective attempts to explain discontinuity as well as the










permanence of behaviors throughout the life-course (Simons, Johnson, Conger, & Elder

1998).

A criminal career can be examined by using the life-course perspective. This

approach is often referred to as the criminal career paradigm. According to Blumstein and

colleagues (1986: 12),"A criminal career is the characterization of the longitudinal

sequence of crimes committed by an individual offender." Criminal acts, even when

organized groups commit them, are ultimately the responsibility of individuals. The

criminal career paradigm, instead of focusing on aggregate rates, focuses on individuals

and attempts to investigate the origins of criminal behavior. One of the goals of this

perspective is to aid in developing crime control policies that would focus on interrupting

or altering criminal careers (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986).

There are four main components to the criminal career paradigm: participation,

frequency, seriousness, and career length (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986).

Participation separates those who have a criminal career to those who do not, frequency

indicates the rate of criminal activity for an active offender, seriousness describes the

severity of offenses, and career length describes how long the offender is actively

committing crimes (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986; Piquero, Farrington, &

Blumstein 2003). As previously mentioned, the life-course perspective is concerned with

duration, timing, and ordering of transition events. As such, when examining the criminal

career, there is focus on the timing and reason behind the onset of criminal activity, the

duration or persistence of the offending, if and why the criminal activity may escalate,

and why and when offenders desist from a life traj ectory of crime (Piquero, Farrington, &

Blumstein 2003; Farrington & Maughan 1999). Each aspect of the criminal career is









important to empirically study, and can provide insight into the criminal career. However,

criminal initiation, or onset, is particularly critical in that it can offer an understanding of

what behaviors may generate criminality (Chu 2002). Empirical research has suggested

that some of the predictors of early onset are low family income, poor child rearing skills,

psychomotor impulsivity, and low verbal intelligence (Farrington et al. 1990). Research

has also suggested that marital disharmony, large family size, parental criminality, and

poor academic achievement or school failure are predictors or future offending

(Farrington et al. 1990). Given the importance of criminal onset, this particular aspect of

the criminal career paradigm has received a vast amount of interest by researchers

(Piquero et al. 2003). However, most studies have focused on juvenile criminal initiation,

and little research exists that pays attention to the onset of adult offenders (Eggleston &

Laub 2002).















CHAPTER 3
ONSET OF ADULT OFFENDING

Although there is not a great deal of empirical research available that has

exclusively focused on adult criminal onset, the phenomenon has been identified in a

number of studies (Eggleston & Laub 2002). Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, and Visher' s

(1986) Criminal Careers and' "Career Criminals, an in-depth summary of longitudinal

studies with available data, indicated the presence of adult criminal onset. They noticed

that most of the nondelinquent juveniles did not become adult offenders, however, a

considerable amount of adult offenders had not been juvenile delinquents. This result

seems to be contradictive of Robin' s well-known statement, "adult antisocial behavior

virtually requires childhood antisocial behavior" (1978:611). In fact, about half of adult

offenders included in the Blumstein and colleagues (1986) summary did not have

juvenile records:

Even though juvenile delinquents are far more likely than nondelinquents to
become adult offenders, 40 to 50 percent of adult offenders do not have records of
juvenile police contacts: because nondelinquent juveniles greatly outnumber
delinquent juveniles, even though a smaller fraction of the nondelinquents become
adult offenders, their great numbers lead to a substantial contribution of adult
offenders." (Blumstein, Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986:88)

In a follow up study to Delinquency in a Birth Cohort (1972), From Boy to Man,

From Delinquency to Crime (1987), Wolfgang, Thornberry, and Figlio found that 24.2

percent of the sample that had committed a criminal offense were adult offenders only,

with no records as juveniles. In describing the offenses of the sample, the researchers

state:









In terms of the characteristics of offenses committed, we have seen that the
juvenile-only and adult-only offenders committed approximately the same number
of offenses, but that the persistent offenders committed far more. In terms of
seriousness, though, the most harmful offenses were those committed by the adult
group, followed in descending order by those committed by the persistent offenders
and then the juvenile offenders." (Wolfgang, Thornberry, & Figlio 1987: 32)

When the researchers examined the distributions of ages of initiation to

delinquency and to criminal behavior, they found that 16 years was the modal age for

criminal onset. However, they did discover onset in the age range froml8-22, although

less than in the younger age categories, and "a negligible number of subj ects entering the

criminal population after age 22" (Wolfgang, Thornberry, & Figlio 1987: 37).

Nonetheless, while the researchers report a small and "negligible" quantity of individuals

whose onset to criminal activity and delinquency occurred between ages 18-22 and after

the age of 22, these subj ects with adult onset still comprise 24 percent of those who were

arrested in the sample.

A study in Sweden (Stattin, Magnusson, & Reichel 1989), using official record data

that followed a subj ect population from age 10 to age 30, set out to provide basic

descriptive information about the criminal activity of the sample at different ages. They

found that the peak age for criminal onset for the male subj ects in the sample was 15

years of age. However, one in four of the men who had a criminal record in the sample

were first registered for an offense after the age of 20 years. This same study found that

the female subjects in the sample tended to first engage in criminal activity later in life

than the male subj ects in the study. They found that the peak age for criminal onset for

the female subj ects in the sample was 21-23 years of age.

In an effort to compare criminal career characteristics of two male cohorts born in

different time periods in the same area of South London, Farrington and Maughan (1999)









used the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development and the Inner London Study. The

Cambridge Study provided a male cohort sample born between September 1952 and

August 1954, and the Inner London Study offered a male cohort sample born between

September 1959 and August 1960. When examining the distribution of age at first

conviction within the samples, this study detected significant adult onset. For the

Cambridge cohort, Farrington and Maughan report that 20 per 100 subj ects obtained their

first conviction in the age bracket 10-16, 10 per 100 in ages 17-20, and seven per 100 in

ages 21-33. For the Inner London cohort, they report that 15 per 100 of the male subj ects

obtained their first conviction in the age brackets of 10-16 and 17-20, and like the

Cambridge cohort, seven per 100 acquired their first conviction during the ages of 21-33.

An exploratory study of Chinese male prisoners conducted by Chu (2002)

concentrates on investigating the life experiences and criminal initiations, or onset, of the

prisoners. This study is unique for two reasons. The first is that is uses self-report

questionnaires, and the second is that it applies the criminal career paradigm to a setting

outside of western nations. The results suggest that criminal onset for the sample of

Chinese male prisoners is later in life than that for prisoners in western nations. The peak

age of criminal initiation was shown to be between the ages of 18 and 19 years. Chinese

prisoners in the sample who were incarcerated for violent crimes and were then currently

in prison for a minimum of a second prison term had an average age of onset of 22.23

years, and also had a peak age of onset between 18 and 19 years of age.

Another study that specifically focuses on adult onset offenders is that of Eggleston

and Laub (2002). Motivated by the understudied topical area of adult criminal onset, they

first set out to explore if an adult onset offender actually exists. They first closely









examine the existing literature, and from that made the observation "that the adult onset

offender should be systematically studied as a population among adult offenders in

general" (Eggleston & Laub 2002: 605). Using the 1942 and 1949 birth cohort data from

Racine, WI, the researchers investigated whether the correlates of crime are different for

adult offenders with juvenile records than for those adult offenders who do not have

juvenile records. The sample consisted of both male and female subjects, and the data

was collected using both records of official police contacts as well as the original

interviews. The sample was comprised of 61.2 percent non-offenders, 14.3 percent

juvenile only offenders, 11.3 percent adult only offenders, and 13.1 percent persistent

offenders. The researchers found that, "adult onset was not a rare event" (Eggleston &

Laub 2002: 612) in the Racine, WI sample. In general, this study suggests that the

predictor variables for adult offenders with a juvenile onset and those with an adult onset

are quite similar. Race, gender, socioeconomic status, and family size all had significant

effects on adult offending for those with and without a delinquent past. On the other

hand, single parent households and parental crime did not have significant effects on

adult offending for either group. Employment was the only variable in this study that

affected the probability of offending differently for juvenile onset offenders and adult

onset offenders. The variable had no effect on adult offending for those with juvenile

onset; however, continuous employment increased the probability of offending for those

with late onset. Although Eggleston and Laub's research results seem to "imply that late

onset offenders may not need to be analyzed separately from persistent offenders" (2002:

613), the researchers encourage further investigation in this neglected research area:









these Eindings should not preclude further investigation of adult onset offenders.
The adult onset population is a neglected dimension of criminological research and
to remedy this fact, future research should compare early versus late onset
offenders using the definition of late onset offending after the peak offending years
of adolescence." (Eggleston & Laub 2002:613)

Some of the suggestions for future research presented in this study include using

higher level of variation in the independent variables, a sample from a larger city "such as

Philadelphia" (Eggleston & Laub 2002: 613), and a more current population sample.

While there are a few exceptions, it is important to note that the maj ority of

research that examines the criminal career uses official indicators when establishing age

of criminal initiation, or onset. This methodological approach has both advantages as well

as disadvantages. While official records can provide the advantage of higher accuracy in

regards to timing and the type of offense, they also have the disadvantage of not detecting

those individuals who have offended but were not caught and documented by official

sources (Eggleston & Laub 2002). This particular disadvantage of using onfcial

indicators for establishing criminal initiation is at the root of the controversy regarding

the existence of adult onset as well as the value of empirically examining the

phenomenon (Eggleston & Laub 2002).

Research on criminal initiation, or onset, has received extensive empirical

consideration (Piquero, Farrington, & Blumstein 2003). However, the maj ority of

research currently available is directed towards juvenile onset offenders and, for the most

part, disregards adult onset. This offender category continues to be discounted or labeled

insignificant, although adult onset offenders have been empirically recognized in

numerous studies. Some research even suggests that adult onset offenders account for

approximately 50 percent of all adult offenders (Eggleston & Laub 2002; Blumstein,

Cohen, Roth, & Visher 1986). While conflicting views regarding the existence of adult









onset offenders as well the value of studying this population exist, the number of adult

onset offenders appears to be non-negligible. As such, the empirical study of adult

onset, though a neglected area of criminology, needs to be further investigated and

developed, as encouraged and suggested by Eggleston and Laub (2002).

In this study, we first focus on whether or not adult onset exists, and if so, what

factors account for adult onset. In addition, we also explore whether there are gender

differences in the prevalence and predictors of late onset. For example, prior research has

suggested that females are more likely than males to have late criminal onset (Kratzer &

Hodgins 1999). Secondly, by applying a variety of independent variables, this study

examines whether correlates of crime with adult onset can be established, and if so, if

these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of criminal initiators such as

nonoffenders, desisters, and persisters. As such, we explore whether we can predict adult

criminal onset, and whether the factors that relate to adult onset among males are similar

to or different from the factors relating to adult onset among females.

The current study has several points of distinction, and fulfills many of the research

suggestions for investigating adult onset offenders presented by Eggleston and Laub

(2002). The researchers point out that, "among the methods to increase the power in a

study is to have a high level of variation in the independent variables" (Eggleston & Laub

2002: 613). The current study will use an array of independent variables, and these

measures contain adequate variability. In describing a limitation in their own study,

Eggleston and Laub (2002:613) state the following:









.. the Racine data set is skewed toward less serious offenses compared to larger
cities, such as Philadelphia.... Therefore, an analysis of different cities with higher
percentages of more serious offenses may produce different results from those
found in the present study.

The data used in the current study is from the Philadelphia portion of the National

Collaborative Perinatal Proj ect (Niswander & Gordon 1972), which is not only based in a

larger city than Racine, WI, it is also the precise city recommended by Eggleston and

Laub. The data in the current research consists of an all Black sample, and has both

female and male subj ects. Eggleston and Laub's (2002) research on adult onset offenders

did not find any distinction in the effect of gender on adult offending for those with

juvenile onset or adult onset. However, they note, "that this population deserves to be

systematically investigated" (2002:614). The current research effort will examine if there

is a gender effect in the existence of adult onset as well as for the predictive variables of

adult onset. Finally, Eggleston and Laub remark that, "More contemporary samples may

also provide insight into the adult onset phenomenon" (2002: 614). The present study

may be able to fulfill this recommendation, because it uses a sample born a few years

later than the sample in the Racine, WI, data set and followed (in adult official records)

up through 1998.















CHAPTER 4
DATA

This research effort utilizes data from the Philadelphia portion of the National

Collaborative Perinatal Proj ect (NCPP) (Niswander & Gordon 1972). The NCPP was a

large-scale medical proj ect carried out at a number of university-related hospitals with an

aim to collect information on birth defects, neurological conditions, birth complications,

and familial and socioeconomic conditions. The participants were infants of mothers who

took part in the NCPP and, therefore, reflect the characteristics of families who would be

interested in receiving low-cost maternity care provided by a public clinic at

Pennsylvania Hospital (Denno 1990). In Philadelphia, the sample included nearly 10,000

pregnant patients who delivered their children at Pennsylvania Hospital between the

years 1959 and 1965. The sample on which the present research is based includes 987

participants who were chosen from the first four cohorts (1959-1962) of 2,958 African

American mothers who took part in the NCPP. It is these 987 participants who were

followed by the original research team at the University of Pennsylvania. Comparisons

between the sample of 987 participants and the excluded sample indicated no significant

differences in key variables (Denno 1990).

A plethora of information related to mother and the infant participant were

collected by teams of doctors, psychologists, and public health officials across all NCPP

sites. The information included several measures associated with the mother' s pregnancy,

information relating to the birth of the child, as well as important psychological and

sociological indicators collected through ages 7/8. In the early 1980's, a research team









from the University of Pennsylvania collected information related to school functioning

and criminal history information, including all police contacts through age 17. Numerous

studies have been performed with the age 17 criminal history data (Denno 1990; Gibson,

Piquero, & Tibbetts 2000, 2001; Piquero 2000a, 2000b, 2001; Piquero & Chung 2001;

Piquero & Tibbetts 1999; Tibbetts & Piquero 1999).

In the summer of 1998, a criminal history follow-up was completed for all 987

participants of the Philadelphia sample (Piquero & White 2003). The Philadelphia Police

Department served as the data source for offenses committed by the cohort after reaching

the legal adult status of age 18. Adult criminal history data, in the form of conviction, are

available through July 1998 or through age 36 for those sample members born into the

1962 cohort and age 39 for those born into the 1959 cohort. Detailed data were collected

on the date and type of each conviction. The Philadelphia Police Department also has an

extensive alias-tracking system that enables the cross listing of names and social security

numbers.

Variables

Both maternal age at childbirth (0 = 18 and older, 1 = less than 18) and maternal

marital status at childbirth (0 = married, 1 = single or unmarried) were retrieved from

medical records. Socioeconomic status (SES) was measured across all NCPP sites by a

single-item general SES score that is a multipart measure of three indicators collected at 7

years of age for each participating child: education of head of household, income of head

of household, and occupation of head of household (Myrianthopoulos & French 1968).

Maternal cigarette smoking was assessed during pregnancy. Mothers were asked to self-

report the average number of cigarettes they smoked each day. Although, originally, this

variable was coded continuously, for this research effort, we code this variable









dichotomously (0=mother did not smoke, 1=mother smoked). The variable for mother' s

changes in marital status is coded continuously.

The participant' s sex was coded as 1 = male, 2 = female. The NCPP includes

several different measures of cognitive abilities, and two are included for this analysis.

The first is the digit span component of the WISC verbal scale, measured at age

seven/eight. The WISC, because it measures both intellective and non-intellective traits,

was described as one of the most psychometrically trustworthy measures of intellectual

performance in children (Caspi, Harkness, Moffitt, & Silva 1996) and was one of the

most popular tests of executive deficits (Lynam, Moffitt, & Stouthamer-Loeber 1993).

For the NCPP, the shorter form of the WISC was utilized and Lezak (1983) had shown

that the longer and shorter forms of the WISC were functionally comparable. The digit

span test of the WISC was designed to assess attention span and short-term memory, two

of the maj or features of neuropsychological functioning/cognitive abilities (Moffitt

1997). Several scholars argued, and some demonstrated, that the WISC was actually

more a measure of neuropsychological variation than it was of intelligence or IQ (Moffitt

1997; Moffitt et al. 1994; Piquero 2001; Seguin, Phil, Harden, Tremblay, & Boulerice

1995).

The second measure of cognitive abilities is the total battery score of the California

Achievement Test (CAT). The CAT was designed for the measurement, evaluation, and

analysis of school achievement, and its emphasis was upon content and obj ectives in the

basic curricular areas of reading, mathematics, and language (Tiegs & Clark 1970).

Originally, this test was used in California schools to assess academic achievement and

produced total scores in the academic areas of reading, mathematics, language, and









overall academic achievement. The total battery score, which was used as the second

measure of cognitive abilities, reflected a student' s standing in terms of total achievement

level. In the Philadelphia NCPP, the level four CAT for grades seven and eight (ages

twelve to fourteen) was used. The CAT, in general, was highly praised in terms of its

validity, comprehensive test and interpretive materials, reliability, and standardization

procedures (Denno 1990).

For offending through age 17, a research team from the University of Pennsylvania

collected information related to criminal history, including all police contacts (Denno

1990). For data beginning at age 18 through the follow-up period, data in the form of

convictions were obtained from the Philadelphia Police Department (Piquero, Gibson,

Tibbetts, Turner, & Katz 2002; Piquero & White 2003). Individuals who did not exhibit a

police contact prior to age 18, but did have at least one conviction after age 18 were

considered adult onset offenders.

Analytic Plan

The current research is motivated by two specific questions: Does adult onset exist,

and if so, can it be explained by several individual and familial indicators that have been

found in prior research to be related to criminal offending. The first portion of the

analysis examines the data to determine if adult onset emerges in the Philadelphia

sample, and if so, whether there are gender differences in this population. Then, using

the constellation of familial and individual variables described earlier, we apply those

indicators to predict adult offending. In addition to predicting adult offender status, we

also examine the total number of adult offenses in order to distinguish between one-time

adult offenders and recidivistic adult offenders. Four models will be estimated; one will

compare adult onset offenders to everyone else in the sample, the second will compare









adult onset offenders to nonoffenders, the third model with will compare adult onset

offenders to those who offended as juveniles and then desisted, and the fourth model will

compare adult onset offenders to those who offended both as juveniles and adults.















CHAPTER 5
RESULTS

We begin by examining whether adult criminal onset exists. The sample population

was organized into four different groups of offenders, based on whether their age of first

police contact occurred during the juvenile years or as an adult. Specifically, those

individuals who never offended were categorized as nonoffenders (n = 689). Individuals

who do not have police contact in the adolescent years, but do have a conviction in the

adult years are categorized as adult onset offenders (n = 78). Those individuals who had a

police contact as juvenile, but did not have a conviction in the adult years are categorized

as desisters (n = 144). Finally, those individuals who had a police contact as a juvenile

and an adult conviction were categorized as persisters (n = 76). In sum, there appears to

be a non negligible amount of adult onset in the Philadelphia NCPP data. In the next

section, we examine the correlates associated with this adult onset, and compare adult

onsetters to different types of offenders.

Models

The first model compares adult onset offenders to everyone else in the sample.

Because we are interested in discriminating between two groups, logistic regression is

employed in this model, as well as for the other four models. This first full model is

shown in Table 1. Three variables in the full model were statistically significant; the

participant' s sex, maternal cigarette smoking, and the total battery score of the California

Achievement Test (CAT). The effect for sex was negative and significant, indicating that

female participants were less likely to be adult onset offenders than male participants. In










terms of maternal cigarette smoking, those participants who had mothers that smoked

during their pregnancy were more likely to have an adult criminal onset than those

participants whose mothers did not smoke. The Einal significant variable in the full

model, the CAT score, indicates that those individual's who had higher total battery

scores on the California Achievement Test were less likely to be adult onset offenders

than those who had lower scores. None of the other variables in the full model were

statistically significant.

Male and female estimates predicting adult onset offenders compared to everyone

else in the sample are also shown in Table 1. As can be seen, two coefficients are

significant among males, but there are no significant coefficients among females.

Specifically, males whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to incur an

adult criminal onset than those male participants whose mother did not smoke during

pregnancy. Also, males who had higher total battery scores on the California

Achievement Test were less likely to be adult onset offenders than those male

participants who had lower scores. Among females, there were no statistically significant

variables.

For the second model, adult onset offenders were compared to nonoffenders. This

second full model is shown in Table 2. The statistically significant variables in the full

model are the same significant variables observed in the first full model. For sex, male

participants were more likely to be adult onset offenders than female participants. As in

the first full model, those participants who had mothers that smoked during their

pregnancy were



















Table 1. Adult Onset Compared to All O her Sample Members
Variables B SE Wald Exp Variables B SE Wald Exp Variables B SE Wald Exp
Full Model (B) (B) Male (B) (B) Female(B()
Sex -1.404 .294 22.74* .246

SES score .006 .007 .617 1.006 SES score .004 .008 .275 1.004 SES score .009 .017 .275 1.009

Mother's -.137 .388 .125 .872 Mother' s .021 .413 .002 1.021 Mother's -6.561 21.39 .094 .001
Age AgpeAe
Marital .036 .283 .017 1.037 Marital .222 .316 .493 1.248 Marital -.960 .807 1.417 .383
Status Status Status
Changes in .004 .006 .568 1.004 Changes in .002 1.0071 .050 1.002 Changes in .018 .012 2.144 1.018
Marital Marital Marital
Status Status Status
Smoke .504 .250 4.070* 1.655 Smoke .785 .290 7.307* 2.193 Smoke -.418 .522 .641 .659

WISC .014 .013 1.241 1.014 WISC .020 .015 1.929 1.021 WISC -.005 .029 .033 .995

CAT -.015 .007 4.485* .985 CAT -.017 .008 4.122* .983 CAT -.010 .014 .544 .990

Constant 1-2.025 1.256 2.598 .132 Constant -4.143 1.36 9.284 .016 Constant 1-2.543 2.538 1.004 .079


Chi-square/ 43.88/ Chi-square/ 14.56/ 7 Chi-square/ 8.653/
df 8 df df 7


(p< .05)









more likely to be adult onset offenders than those participants whose mothers did not

smoke during the pregnancy. This model also indicated that those individuals who had a

higher total battery score on the California Achievement Test were less likely to be adult

onset offenders. Similar to the first full model, none of the other variables in the second

full model were statistically significant.

Male and female estimates predicting adult onset offenders compared to

nonoffenders are also shown in Table 2. As can be seen, two coefficients are significant

among males, but there are no significant coefficients among females. Specifically, males

whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to incur an adult criminal onset

than those male participants whose mother did not smoke during pregnancy. Also, males

who had higher total battery scores on the California Achievement Test were less likely

to be adult onset offenders than those male participants who had lower scores. Among

females, there were no statistically significant variables.

The third model compared adult onset offenders to those who offended as

juveniles, but not as adults. The full model is shown in Table 3. In this estimate, only the

variable sex was significant. Female participants were less likely to be adult onset

offenders, and more likely to have only offended as juveniles.

Male and female estimates predicting adult onset offenders compared to desisters

are also shown in Table 3. As can be seen, one coefficient is significant among males,

and no coefficients were shown to be significant among females. Males whose mother

smoked during pregnancy were more likely to acquire adult criminal onset than those

male participants whose mothers did not smoke during pregnancy.



















Table 2. Adult Onset Compared to Non-offenders
Variables B SE Wald Exp Variables B SE Wald Exp Variables B SE Wald Exp
Full Model (B) (B) Male (B) (B) Female(B()
Sex -1.681 .298 31.91* .186

SES score .()(5 .()(7 .5()4 1.()(5 SES score .()(4 .()(8 .194 1.()(4 SES score .(1() 1 .()17 .354 1.)1()

Mother's -.247 .4()3 .374 .782 Mother's -.12() .436 .()75 .887 Mother's -6.664 23.()4 .()84 .()(1
Age AgpeAe
Marital .159 .296 .289 1.172 Marital .392 .338 1.345 1.479 Marital -1.()41 .831 1.568 .353
Status Status Status
Changes in .()(4 .()(6 .357 1.()(4 Changes in .))( 1.()(71 .()()( 1.()()( Changes in .(23 .()13 3.13() 1.()23
Marital Marital Marital
Status Status Status
Smoke .52() .258 4.()79* 1.683 Smoke .822 .3()3 7.387* 2.276 Smoke -.477 .528 .816 .62()

WISC .()19 .(13 2.()82 1.()19 WISC .(25 .()15 2.623 1.()25 WISC -.()(8 .()29 .()84 .992

CAT -.()21 .(13 8.223* .979 CAT -.()24 .()(9 7.265* .977 CAT -.()12 .()14 .814 .988

Constant 1-1.6()2 1.267 1.599 .2()1 Constant -3.954 1.39 8.()69 .()19 Constant 1-2.1()6 2.463 .731 .122


Chi-square/ 62.25/ Chi-square/ 2().228/ Chi-square/ 9.5()5/
df 8 df 7 df 7

* (p < .05)



















Table 3. Adult Onset Compared to Desisters
Variables B SE Wald Exp Variables B SE Wald Exp Variables B SE Wald Exp
Full Model (B) (B) Male (B) (B) Female(B()
Sex -.913 .345 6.992* .4()1

SES score .()(7 .()(8 .6()4 1.()(7 SES score .())( .)1() .()()( 1.()()( SES score .()21 .()18 1.4()7 1.()22

Mother's -.179 .478 .141 .836 Mother' s .(14 .5451 .()(1 1.()14 Mother's -6.577 24.33 .()73 .()(1
Age AgpeAe
Marital -.28() .345 .656 .756 Marital -.15() .399 .142 .861 Marital -.758 .853 .79() .468
Status Status Status
Changes in .()13 .()(8 2.277 1.()13 Changes in .(14 .()13 1.294 1.()14 Changes in .()(7 .()14 .223 1.()(7
Marital Marital Marital
Status Status Status
Smoke .435 .3()2 2.()73 1.545 Smoke .726 .354 4.2()7* 2.()67 Smoke -.193 .628 .()95 .824

WISC .()1() .17 .356 1.)1() WISC .(14 .()19 .55() 1.()14 WISC .(14 .()41 .124 1.()15

CAT -.()(7 .()(8 .734 .993 CAT -.()14 .)1() 1.972 .986 CAT .()()1 .()17 .()(6 1.()(1

Constant -.593 1.65() .129 .553 Constant -1.735 1.73 1.()(3 .176 Constant 1-3.()32 3.614 .7()4 .()48


Chi-square/ 15.()46 Chi-square/ 8.592/ 7 Chi-square/ 7.317/
df / 8 df df 7

* (p < .05)










Model four compared adult onset offenders to those who offended both as juveniles

and adults. No variables were found statistically discriminate among these two groups of

offenders in either the full model estimates or in the male and female estimates.

Model Hyve compared adult onset offenders with one conviction to those adult onset

offenders with more than one conviction. No variables were found statistically significant

among these two groups in either the full model estimates or in the male and female

estimates.

Discussion

In this study, we explored the adult criminal onset phenomenon. We first examined

whether adult onset exists in the Philadelphia NCPP data, as well as which correlates of

criminal activity were associated with adult onset. Further, we sought to investigate

whether these correlates are the same or similar for other categories of individuals,

nonoffenders and offenders, including desisters and persisters.

Three key findings emerged from our analysis. First, females are less likely than

males to be adult onset offenders. This result is interesting in that it is inconsistent with

prior research that suggests females are more likely than males to be adult onset offenders

(Kratzer & Hodgins 1999). Second, participants who had mothers that smoked cigarettes

during pregnancy were more likely to be adult onset offenders than nonoffenders. Prior

research has suggested a relationship between maternal cigarette smoking and persistent

offending (Piquero et al. 2002), but this is the first study that we are aware of that links

maternal cigarette smoking to offspring criminality after the age of eighteen (without

evidence of juvenile criminality). It is possible that the variable, maternal cigarette

smoking is actually a proxy for other factors that may contribute to criminality. For

example, one possibility is that the variable could be a stand-in for the mother's lifestyle,









socioeconomic status, or a poor care indicator. Another possibility is that maternal

cigarette smoking is a proxy for neurological problems. Thirdly, participants who had

higher scores on the total battery score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were

less likely to be adult onset offenders. This particular finding shows the preventative

effects of cognitive abilities in deterring criminal activity. While sex and the total battery

score of the California Achievement Test (CAT) were statistically significant in most

models, it is important to emphasize that sex is more substantively significant than the

variable CAT.

In total, our results show that it is important for criminal career researchers to

continue to delve into the area of adult onset offenders, and to persist in the exploration

of the correlates of crime that may predict this type of criminal initiator. Specifically,

results from our effort suggest that there are factors that may predict adult criminal onset,

and that these correlates may be similar to those predictors of other categories of criminal

offenders. In the end, our results corroborate recent research by Eggleston and Laub

(2002) regarding the importance of studying adult onset and contradict contentions from

other researchers that adult onset is a rare phenomenon, one that is ill deserving of

research attention (see Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990; Moffitt et al.,2001).

To be sure, our research effort has limitations that need to be acknowledged, and

that lead us to outline several important directions for future research. First, our study

used an entirely African American sample. While there is some existing research on adult

criminal onset that explores racial differences, future research should more critically

examine whether adult onset patterns differ across race/ethnicity, and whether the

correlates associated with adult onset differ according to race as well. Second, our study,









as well as other research on adult onset, used data collected from official records. Focus

should be placed on expanding the understanding of adult criminal onset by analyzing the

phenomenon using both onfcial records as well as self-report data (Eggleston & Laub

2002). Third, the age range available in the data limited our current effort, as we only had

information up to ages 33 through 39. Future research should continue to investigate late

onset using data sources with information on older participants. More specifically, future

research may want to explore adult criminal onset with data containing information on

offenders over the age of 55 years, as prior studies have suggested that a significant

portion of senior offenders have no prior criminal records (Aday 2003). Finally, our study

was limited in that we did not have available variables on negative adult transitions.

Adult drug use and/or dependencies, troubled marriages or divorce, and other adult

transitions may be factors to consider when examining adult criminal onset.

The area of adult criminal onset in criminology might also be further illuminated by

the insights of Ferraro's gerontological imagination, in which he emphasizes the

importance of chronological age (Ferraro 1997). He also calls attention to the many

components of the ageing process that is filled with transitions, advantages, and

disadvantages. According to Ferraro, the age of an individual is a key variable to consider

because it identifies a cohort location. This is important, in that a cohort can be used as an

indication of the shared experiences of people born within the same time period (Mills &

Edwards 2002).

Research on adult criminal onset might also be informed by Arnett' s (2000)

concept of 'emerging adulthood'. This new theory of development argues that in modern

industrialized societies, individuals between the ages of 18 to 25 are not adolescents or










young adults. Instead, Arnett believes that this time period of life is a distinct

developmental period, with distinctive life transitions and experiences for those that fall

within this category (Arnett 2000). It may be that life transitions and experiences incurred

during emerging adulthood relate in unique ways to adult onset.

This research effort, as well as preceding research, has indicated that adult onset

offenders do exist. This, in itself, has policy implications. Our society is currently aging,

and the adult and senior populations will continue to grow (Aday 2003). Understanding

adult onset offending may inevitably become an important aspect of both crime control

policies as well as the correctional system. Life-course transitions can be age-graded and

accompany the aging process and adulthood. Certain transitions in the life-course are

linked to behaviors that could incorporate criminality. These transitions are often

changes in societal roles and status. For example, as a senior, an individual may have a

sudden need for healthcare and prescription medicines. Transitions can often be abrupt

and influential, changing the behaviors of the individual. For this reason, providing

societal cushions for adult life transitions, such as national healthcare and prescription

benefits, could be a strategy used to control and alleviate the onset of negative adult

behaviors, such as adult onset offending.

In sum, while criminal onset is a highly researched area in life-course criminology,

the traditional focus on "onset" has been on juvenile offenders. As a consequence, adult

onset offending has not received adequate attention in the field, and the factors related to

this type of criminal initiator are understudied and neglected. Since the current study, as

well as previous empirical research, has identified factors that may be associated with

adult criminal onset, continuing research in the area of adult onset offending can only







28


enhance our knowledge of the behaviors that may produce criminality over the life-

course.
















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Zenta Gomez-Smith was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1982. Her family moved to the

United States in 1988, and eventually settled in central Florida. Zenta graduated from

high school in Deland, Florida, in 1999. In 2002, Zenta received her Bachelor of Arts

degree in sociology from Stetson University. Zenta was married to Larry David Smith on

June 22, 2002. Soon after, they relocated to Gainesville, Florida, in order for Zenta to

pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Florida. She completed her Master of Arts in

criminology and law in May 2004. Currently, Zenta continues to pursue a Ph.D. at the

University of Florida, and is living in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Larry, and

their three dogs, Maj or, Ito, and Junior.