Determining What Makes A Career Criminal Essay

This essay has a total of 1351 words and 7 pages.

Determining What Makes A Career Criminal



Determining What Makes A Career Criminal

The career criminal, or, more pointedly, those individuals who participate in criminal
acts on a regular basis for both a central and constant source of income has, generally, a
specific set of identifying factors which, while conclusive in laymen's terms, fail to
meet the criteria necessary for scientific inquiry. While definitions exist as to what a
career criminal is, the research methods employed in determining these definitions are a
large point of contention for criminal justice theorists, especially due to their
potential and virtually imminent inclusion to modern hypothesis on the subject. These
research methods include longitudinal data collection and compilation, cross-sectional
data collection and compilation, and, as at least one group of theorists argue, the most
efficient method, informative interviewing.

The longitudinal research method employs a data collection technique which focuses on the
duration of a particular act--in this case, the so-called criminal career--based not upon
specific incidents, but the length of time measured between such acts (Blumstein, Cohen,
and Farrington, 1988). That is, an individual's propensity for criminal conduct in a
so-called career mode would be measured first by the original act as an origin, then with
the succeeding acts, until a final point became evident. Therefore, such a research method
would logically conclude that an individual who performed or participated in criminal
conduct on two occasions several years apart would be considered a career criminal. It is
for this reason, that criminal justice theorists differ as to the applicability and
relevance of the longitudinal research method (Blumstein, Cohen, and Farrington, 1988).

Since the longitudinal research method could construe two independent--or even two
interdependant--criminal acts as the foundational make-up of a career criminal, theorists
may hypothesize incorrectly as to the actuality of an individual having a career based in
criminal behavior. Because it is widely believed by opponents of the longitudinal research
method that the mere occurrence of two criminal acts spaced out over an individual's
lifetime or testing window is not indicative of the so-called career criminal modus
operandi, the research method has increasingly lost its popularity and application in such
studies, unless, of course, it is supported or otherwise confirmed by other utilized
research procedures (Blumstein, Cohen, and Farrington, 1988). One of these alternative
testing and research methods is the cross-sectional data collection and compilation model.

The cross-sectional data collection and compilation model, when applied to the criminal
career hypothezation, measures the probability of occurrence of a particular act of
criminal conduct or other so-called criminal behavior. The cross-sectional model allows
for a glimpse into each individual criminal act which may be thought to, when compiled,
comprise a framework which indicates that individual is a career criminal. For this
reason, the cross-sectional model is infinitely more applicable and accurate in
determining, or at least providing indicators which would lead to a determination, of
conduct constituting that of a career criminal. While such assistance is immeasurable for
a determination of whether or not an individual is a career criminal, it still falls short
of a definite model for such identification. For this reason, many criminal justice
theorists feel that the individual application of the cross-sectional model is
inappropriate for its unsupported inclusion into relevant scientific hypothesis. Once
again, however, when such data is adequately supported or otherwise confirmed by other
information, inclusion is proper.

Criminal justice theorists have relied on either one, or both models since the inception
of investigation into all areas of criminal behavior. Such data, however, comes under fire
if, and when, other theories surface which either provide additional information, or
information which is more in-depth and in deference to that data already obtained and
reported upon (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1988). The dilemma, of course, is that regardless
of how detailed and in-depth even the most comprehensive of testing techniques are, there
is always one method which is the most detailed, as it originates from the primary source.
This data is called informative interviewing (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1988).

Informative interviewing is a method through which criminal justice theorists acquire
information from the primary source (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1988). In the case of the
present issue, deliberating over the question of what behavior is indicative of a career
criminal, information would most probably be extracted from those individuals who
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