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date: 19 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Researchers have long been trying to elucidate the nature of the criminal career by focusing on the average path or trajectory of offending over the life course. Some developmental theorists, most notably Terrie E. Moffitt (1993), proposed typologies, suggesting that people have fundamentally different paths and processes over the life course. Based on his theory, Moffitt classified individuals into non-offenders, life-course-persistent offenders and adolescence-limited offenders. Life-course-persistent and adolescence-limited offenders differ by the age of onset and by the time at which they exit from crime. In a 2003 paper, Robert J. Sampson and John H. Laub debunked the notion that there are life-course persisters and concluded that crime declines with age sooner or later for all offender groups. This article examines the evidence surrounding the theory put forward by Sampson and Laub and looks at some of the issues that arise when identifying and explaining life-course-persistent offenders.

Keywords: criminal career, offending, life course, Terrie E. Moffitt, non-offenders, life-course-persistent offenders, adolescence-limited offenders, Robert J. Sampson, John H. Laub, crime

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