Cover: Focusing Attention on Career Criminals

Focusing Attention on Career Criminals

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Published 1977

by Joan R. Petersilia


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Discusses major programs being developed to deal selectively with career criminals, such as LEAA's Career Criminal Prosecution Program. The author reviews studies conducted at RAND to identify characteristics of career criminals. Most do not specialize but engage in a variety of crimes. They do not routinely plan their crimes, nor are they well rewarded. Drugs and alcohol play a prominent role in a crime career. Career criminals commit an average of 20 felonies per year of street time. Serious criminal careers begin at around age 14, peak in the early 20s and decline until age 30, when most criminal careers end. The author discusses the implications of career criminal programs for significantly reducing crime. Suggestions for containing career criminal behavior include waiving the protection of the juvenile justice system for hardcore juvenile offenders.

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