Reading aloud Anyone who has finished his twentieth year without being criminalized has not yet finally escaped the criminal record. Contrary to popular assumptions, the CRIME study by the Institute for Forensic Psychiatry at Freie Universität Berlin has shown that getting involved in crime is not a mere youth phenomenon.

A working group led by Klaus-Peter Dahle has since 1976 analyzed the CVs of almost 400 former German prisoners. For this purpose, the researchers studied court documents, conducted psychological tests and individual interviews with men and evaluated neurological findings. From these data, the scientists crystallized five typical life histories.

There are the "late entrants" who get their first entry in the Federal Central Register for criminal convictions on average only 24 years. Their share of the criminals is about 13 percent. They are the "most active" between their 25th and 40th years of life, but even after that they repeatedly commit serious theft and fraud and property offenses.

The "casual offenders" (47 percent) also start to act criminally late, around 25 years old. They commit either a few major crimes, or many small ones.

In contrast, the "young active" have their worst phase up to their 25th year already behind them. Their share of the criminals is 11 percent. display

The group of "age-limited intensive offenders" (11 percent) begins their criminal career in early youth and increases their activities in terms of the number and severity of the offenses up to the age of 30. Afterwards, they significantly lessen their activities. After the age of 35, they barely commit any crimes.

After all, the "persistent intensive offenders" most closely resemble the image of the typical criminal: they are among the most active offenders in every phase of their lives. At the end of the survey - the offenders were now about 54 years old - the persons investigated by the researchers, who belong to this group, had around 20 entries in the Federal Central Register. Mostly they spent about 17 years of their life in prison. That's three times more than the criminals of all other groups.

The results to date make the authors confident that the differentiated life course research also allows long-term predictions about the conditions under which released prisoners are re-offending and which intervention measures are most effective for which types of perpetrators.

Doris Marszk and idw

© science.de

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