The validity of criminality data derived from personal interviews

by Joan R. Petersilia

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Information gathered from personal interviews with 49 incarcerated felons is used to assess the validity of the interview data by comparing the offender's self-reported criminal activity with arrests and convictions in official records data. The validity is categorized by different types of crime, criminal career periods (juvenile, young adult, and adult), and the gender of the interviewer. It is found that respondents reported approximately 50 percent of their arrests or convictions during the interviews; 75 percent of juvenile events are included. Surprisingly, there was less validity in reporting less serious offenses and crimes taking place most recent to the time of current incarceration. The gender of the interviewer appeared to make no difference.

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