Special Categories of Serious and Violent Offenders

Richard Rosenfeld, Helene R. White, Finn Aage Esbensen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


This chapter examines drug dealing and gang membership, and to a lesser extent sex offending and homicide, with respect to age of onset and desistance, correlates and causes, and offense specialization and persistence during the transition from adolescence into young adulthood. Prior studies and research indicate that initiation of criminal activity is not rigidly fixed in enduring biological or developmental processes, but is contingent on crime type, time period, and perhaps other features of social context. Although most criminal offending begins in adolescence, the chapter finds some evidence of initiation of serious violence and drug dealing in early adulthood, whereas gang membership almost always begins during adolescence. The chapter's analyses also indicate comparatively strong persistence from adolescence into young adulthood of drug dealing and gun carrying, less persistence in serious violence and theft, and little persistence in gang involvement. In general, the evidence suggests that special types of offenders do not tend to specialize in a single offense type to the exclusion of others, although prior research does indicate somewhat greater specialization among sex offenders who victimize children than those who victimize peers or adults. Additional research is needed to formulate effective interventions for these special offenders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrom Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime
Subtitle of host publicationCriminal Careers, Justice Policy and Prevention
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199951208
ISBN (Print)9780199828166
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Drug dealers
  • Gang members
  • Gun carrying
  • Homicide offenders
  • Sex offenders


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