Sociology Index


Career criminal is one whose criminality is similar to a career. Career criminals have gone through the minor leagues to the major leagues, and devote many aspects of their life to criminality. A career criminal or habitual offender, is a person convicted of a new crime who was previously convicted of crimes. State and other jurisdictions may have laws targeting habitual offenders, and specifically providing for enhanced or exemplary punishments or other sanctions for career criminals. Career criminals tend to commit a large portion of the total amount of crime in a community. Career criminality is associated with an individual's exposure to deviant subculture especially those that exist in weakly controlled areas of society.

The Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 is a United States federal law that provides sentence enhancements for felons who commit crimes with firearms if they are convicted of certain crimes three or more times. 18 U.S.C. 924(e) of The Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, requires imposition of a minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g).

Career Criminal Abstracts

Prison Experience of Career Criminals 
J Petersilia ; P Honig ; C Hubay.
The treatment needs and custodial problems associated with career criminals are explored, along with the question of whether these inmates are treated selectively.

Abstract: There was little evidence that career criminal inmates have greater treatment needs than the general prison population or that they participate less in relevant prison rehabilitation programs. Career criminals were not found to be the primary source of prison violence. Further, it is suggested that no special rehabilitation programs for career criminals be established at this time.

It is inappropriate that programs be tailored to those inmates prosecuted by special career criminal units. Although this study suggests that career criminals are not more likely to exhibit negative prison behavior or attempt escape, the situation may change in the next few years as career criminal prosecution units focus on younger criminals with serious criminal histories.

Protecting America: The Effectiveness of the Federal Armed Career Criminal Statute
Corporate Author: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Laboratory.
This analysis of the impact of Federal legislation regarding armed career criminals focused on the legislation's effect on crime, criminal behavior and the improvement of investigative techniques. As of February 1, 1991, a total of 471 offenders were convicted and sentenced as career criminals under this law.

The research used data from these offenders, a survey of 258 law enforcement officials in all 50 States, interviews with 100 imprisoned armed career criminals, an analysis of 12 career criminal programs. Results revealed that each career criminal committed about 3 crimes per week or 160 crimes per year and, therefore, that incarceration at a cost of $45,000 per year saved $323,000 per year per career criminal inmate.

Survey of Local Career Criminal Programs Report - J Dimm ; P Pacheco ; C Noe, Corporate Author: INSLAW US
This survey of local career criminal programs focuses on their organization and funding, their selection criteria and target offenses, the extent of their interaction with Federal investigative and prosecutory agencies, and their reaction to the concept of a Federal career criminal program. Findings pertaining to interagency coordination, particularly the degree of coordination between Federal agents or U.S. attorneys and the State attorneys or local career criminal unit staff, indicate that small jurisdictions have an overall low level of cooperation and information sharing as well as a general lack of followup with local police. Benefits and liabilities of a Federal career criminal program are listed.

Criminal Careers of Female Offenders - MARGUERITE Q. WARREN, Monroe Institute
JILL LESLIE ROSENBAUM, California State University, Fullerton. Abstract: This article examines the subsequent lives of a sample of females who were committed to the California Youth Authority during the 1960s. The criminal careers of these women were analyzed in terms of the persistence and duration of offense behavior, crime specialization, and escalation of seriousness over sequential career periods (prior to youth authority commitment, the commitment period including time on parole, and post-release).

THE NEED FOR SNEED: A LOOPHOLE IN THE ARMED CAREER CRIMINAL ACT. On March 24, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in United States v. Sneed, held that courts may not use police reports to determine if prior offenses occurred on different occasions for the purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act. In so doing, the court narrowed the class of offenders that qualify as career offenders and created a loophole that allows some offenders to avoid the ARMED CAREER CRIMINAL ACT’s mandatory minimum sentence if their previous offenses were not well documented in judicially approved sources. This Comment argues that in order to correct the problem of the Sneed loophole, Congress should amend the ARMED CAREER CRIMINAL ACT by defining different “occasions” so that the statute can be consistently applied in all jurisdictions and will not force juries to examine the facts underlying a defendant’s previous convictions.

Criminal Careers and "Career Criminals," Volume I (1986) - Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Consensus Study Report. National Research Council. Panel on Research on Criminal Careers; Committee on Research on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice; Alfred Blumstein, Jacqueline Cohen, Jeffrey A. Roth, and Christy A. Visher, Editors.
This book takes a novel approach to studying criminal behavior. It develops a framework for collecting information about individual criminal careers and their parameters, reviews existing knowledge about criminal career dimensions, presents models of offending patterns, and describes how criminal career information can be used to develop and refine criminal justice policies. In addition, an agenda for future research on criminal careers is presented.

Career Criminals and Criminological Theory - Raymond Paternoster.
National Academies Press.
Published a two-volume compendium entitled “Criminal Careers and ‘Career Criminals’” (Blumstein et al. 1986) that gave expression to the growing interest in both the field of criminology and among policy makers in the career criminal. Although there is no exact agreement on what a career criminal is, in the literature it has generally referred to persons who commit many crimes beginning at an early age and who persist in offending over the life course. Among other things, then, the career criminal is a habitual, persistent, or “chronic” criminal offender, committing criminal acts at every stage of the life course. Blumstein and colleagues’ report was not, however, the first instance of academic interest in the career criminal. From the 1930s to 1950s, Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck assembled several large longitudinal data sets that tracked offending from a young age to adulthood.

Career Criminal Books

Criminal Recidivism - Explanation, prediction and prevention
By Georgia Zara, David P. Farrington.
Criminal Recidivism intends to fill a gap in the criminological psychology literature by examining the processes underlying persistent criminal careers. This book aims to investigate criminal recidivism, and why, how and for how long an individual a career criminal, whilst also reviewing knowledge about risk assessment and the role of psychopathy in encouraging recidivism. It also focuses on the recidivism of sex offenders and on what works in reducing reoffending. At an empirical evidence level, this book attempts to explain criminal persistence and recidivism using longitudinal data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. At a psycho-criminological level it joins together quantitative analysis and qualitative research analyses, making its content a practical guide to explain, predict, and intervene to reduce the risk of criminal recidivism. The authors present quantitative analyses of criminal careers, as well as qualitative life histories of chronic offenders, in order to bring home the reality and consequences of a life of crime.

Career Criminals in Society
Matt DeLisi - Iowa State University.
The majority of crime that occurs in society is committed by a small percentage of the population, meaning that most criminals are repeat offenders, or "career criminals." If societies devoted considerable resources toward preventing and neutralizing career criminals, there would be dramatic reductions in crime, the fear of crime, and the assorted costs and collateral consequences of crime.
Career Criminals in Society examines the small but dangerous group of repeat offenders who are most damaging to society. The book encourages readers to think critically about the causes of criminal behavior and the potential of the criminal justice system to reduce crime. Matt DeLisi draws upon his own practitioner experience, interviewing criminal defendants to argue that career criminals can be combated only with a combination of prevention efforts and retributive criminal justice system policies.