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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This discussion of the factors contributing to chronic and persistent criminality uses longitudinal research to show how the trajectory path is developed and maintained.
Purpose: The goal, according the editor, "was to bring together scholars from both criminology and developmental psychology to forward our understanding of the development of persistent criminality."
Audience: The book is intended for criminologists, developmental psychologists, child and adult clinical psychologists, social workers, and college students.
Features: It attempts to explain persistent criminality from a number of vantage points including family issues, biosocial influences, methodological issues involved in studying the life course of criminals, and conceptualization models. Persistent criminality is defined in terms of the trajectory of individuals involved in criminal careers. It is well written by 38 contributors from the United States and the United Kingdom, who integrate criminology with developmental psychology. Interesting chapters include how foster care children age out of the system with an increased risk to become involved in criminal activity. The book conceptualizes this transition within three different models: the life-course model, the capital model, and the ecological model. The concluding chapter, "What Have We Learned?" summarizes the book well, yet leaves researchers with a challenge: "It is now time to differentiate between those behavior-disordered children who will outgrow their problems and those who will persist, to specify those problem behaviors which will evolve into delinquency, and identify those delinquent adolescents who will commit serious crimes and persist in criminal activity." Numerous tables and figures elucidate the material well and the book ends with both an author and subject index.
Assessment: It is important for society to understand the individuals who are habitual offenders and design interventions in order to help those who are willing to change. Obviously, if we could intervene at a very early stage, this would be extremely advantageous. This well written book begins this crucial process of learning about the factors underlying persistent criminality.