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Career Criminal Essay Research Paper The career

Career Criminal Essay, Research Paper 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

Career Criminal Essay, Research Paper

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 exhibited the stereotypical traits of what is

referred to as a career criminal. These would include individuals whose primary

source of income is derived from the perpetration of crimes, the acquisition and

conversion of cash or property into cash for personal use, and the consistency

of these acts. That is, are they performed on a verifiably consistent basis to

the aforementioned ends of sustaining life for a particular individual (Weis,

1991). Alternatively, the informative interviewing method would need to address

those groups which other testing methods and their proponents have identified as

possible career criminals. These would include those individuals who perpetrate

more than one criminal act in the course of their lifetime or testing window,

and those who perpetrate multiple criminal acts in an effort to maintain

financial stability, as illuminated by the longitudinal research method and the

cross-sectional data collection and compilation model, respectively (Gottfredson

and Hirschi, 1988). In total, the informative interviewing technique is the most

inclusive of all the testing measures, as it does not presuppose the existence

of facts or reasoned support thereof, nor rely on a multitude of secondary

sources for its hypothetical theorizations. Opponents, however, argue that the

single, most important drawback to utilization of the informative interview

technique for central reliance in a scientific study, is that there exists no

guarantee that the information being obtained from the individual in question

is, indeed, a factual representation of his or her physical and mental

manifestations and reasoning prior to, during, and after performance of the

criminal act (Weis, 1991). Though this seems a wholly valid and relevant

argument based on the stereotypical nature of such individuals who maintain or,

at least, are thought to maintain a life of crime, the scientist-interviewer has

a better probability of determining the truthfulness of the individual when he

or she is face to face, rather than viewing so-called research on a two

dimensional document (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1988). For this reason, it seems

that the informative interviewing technique is the most reliable indicator of an

individual’s propensity to maintain a career firmly rooted in criminal activity.

Finally, the very issue of career criminals cannot be determined by those

studies which seek to apply a virtual cornucopia of variables and other

indicators into a multi-tiered graphic conceptualization of a theory (Weis,

1991). This is so because such a conceptualization, while attempting to

scientifically duplicate the environment which produces career criminals,

cannot, and thus leads the criminal justice theorist on a road wrought with

balances and counterbalances which seek to clarify and provide for those

responses which do not otherwise fall into the neatly, albeit mechanically

defined categories (Elliot, 1994). Such is not the nature of a career criminal,

and, ironically, may be indicative to the very mechanisms he or she seeks to

obviate when choosing such an alternative, societally unaccepted posture as to

self-sustenance. As the informative interview points out, asking someone who

knows is infinitely more reliable than relying on text written by someone who

thinks they know.

Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Farrington, D. (1988). Criminal career

research: it’s value for criminology. Blumstein, A., Cohen, J., and Farrington,

D. (1988). Longitudinal and criminal career research: further clarifications.

Criminology, vol. 26, no. 1. Elliot, D. S. (1994). Serious violent offenders:

onset, developmental course, and termination–The American Society of

Criminology 1993 Presidential Address. Criminology, vol. 32, no. 1. Gottfredson,

M., and Hirschi, T. (1988). Science, public policy, and the career paradigm.

Criminology, vol. 26, no. 1. Sutherland, E. H. (1994). The professional thief.

classics of criminology. IL: Waveland Press. Welsh, A. E. (1991). Issues in the

measurement of criminal careers. Criminal Justice 400 packet, fall semester,

1995 Iowa State University.

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