You are here

Career Criminals in Society

Career Criminals in Society

February 2005 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

More than a century of scientific research has indicated that 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. Author 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.

Key Features

  • Uses an engaging writing style to provide a comprehensive overview of career criminals
  • Provides chapter-opening vignettes developed from real criminal cases
  • Examines various crime prevention strategies to neutralize criminal careers
  • Explores the international relevance of career criminals
  • Draws upon research from the fields of criminal justice, criminology, psychology, sociology, and human development

With its controversial, thought-provoking style, Career Criminals in Society is sure to advance theory and research on chronic offenders and inspire discussions on how to adequately control crime. It is an excellent supplementary textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses on criminology, criminal behavior, crime typologies, deviant behavior, and crime control and prevention.

Chapter 1. Introduction, Two Glimpses at the Career Criminal
The Life of Crime  
Overview of the Book  
Practitioner Approach  
Chapter 2. The Empirical Evidence of Career Criminals
Historical Background of Career Criminals  
Biographies and Typological Studies  
The Modern Criminal Career Paradigm  
International Contributions  
Career Criminal Characteristics  
Summary: The Universality of Career Criminals  
Chapter 3. Developmental Theory and Its Application
Overview of Developmental Theory  
Patterson's Coercion Theory  
Moffitt's Developmental Taxonomy  
Sampson and Laub's Age-graded Theory of Informal Social Control and Cumulative Disadvantage  
Thornberry's Interactional Theory  
Social Development Model  
Developmental Theory in Action: A Review of Some Successful Prevention Policies  
Strategies that Help to Forestall Career Criminality  
Chapter 4. The Challenges Posed by Propensity Theory
Overview of Propensity Theories as they relate to Career Criminals  
The Implicit and Explicit Role of Psychopathological Conditions  
Wilson and Herrnstein's Crime and Human Nature  
Gottfredson and Hirschi's A General Theory of Crime  
The Gottfredson and Hirschi Critiques  
Theoretical Challenges and Summary Issues  
Chapter 5. The Politics of Career Criminals
The Ethical Quandaries of Prediction  
Media Portrayals of Career Criminals  
The Criminological Significance of Career Criminals  
The Sympathetic Life of Career Criminals  
The Mercurial Criminal Justice System  
Academics and Career Criminals  
Constructing the Career Criminal  
Chapter 6. The Criminal Justice System and Career Criminals
Introduction and Overview  
The Police and Career Criminals  
The Courts and Career Criminals  
Corrections and Career Criminals  
Capital Punishment and Career Criminals  
Chapter 7. Conclusion, Do We Have the Will to Stop Career Criminals?
Prevention and the Conservative Compromise  
Retributive Justice and the Liberal Compromise  
Key features
1. Very readable overview of career criminals, a subject of great interest to students majoring in criminology or criminal justice.

2. Examines various crime prevention strategies to short circuit criminal careers.

3. Boxed inserts within each chapter have arrest records or arrest warrant information.

4. Chapters open with a vignette developed from real case histories motivate the reader to understand the importance of the chapter material about to be read

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.