Doing Crime : A Survey of California Prison Inmates

by Suzanne Polich, Mark A. Peterson, Harriet B. Braiker


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Based on a survey conducted in five California prisons during July and August 1976, this study explores criminological issues concerning the number of crimes committed by offenders, the characteristics of high-rate "career" criminals, and the associations between these characteristics and the crimes themselves. The survey of 624 incarcerated male felons is the first known examination of these issues using offender-provided information from a large sample. It provides new information on offenders' descriptions of their crimes, their involvement with criminal justice agencies, the reasons they offer for their crimes, and their perceptions of and attitudes toward crime and the criminal justice system. It also describes the relationship between crime rates and three kinds of self-reported information: personal characteristics--age, race, drug use; experience with the criminal justice system--prior criminal record, current conviction offense, juvenile record; social-psychological characteristics--self-concept, motivation, attitudes about crime, perception of the payoffs of crime, and economic, residential, and marital status.

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