Life-course criminology has generated new energy and provoked sharp debate over competing ideas about the fundamental relationship between age and crime. A major catalyst for this debate – a 2003 American Society of Criminology (ASC) conference session entitled "Age, Crime, and Human Development: The Future of Life-Course Criminology," chaired by the editors of this issue – provided a springboard for this special issue of The Annals.
With an eye to the future, this special issue provides critical debate on patterns of age and crime across the full life course – from infancy to late adulthood. Criminal career topics such as onset, continuation, termination, and career length are also discussed, along with the viability of developmental and taxonomic theories of crime, the suitability of existing data archives to test theories, and the prospects for marrying longitudinal and experimental studies.
The distinguished papers that appear in this compelling collection include the full set of presentations from the inaugural Albany Symposium on Crime and Justice: "Developmental Criminology and Its Discontents: Offender Typologies and Trajectories of Crime," which took place in April 2005 and built upon the questions raised at the ASC conference session. In addition to the revised original papers and commentaries from the Albany symposium, this journal also includes never-before-published responses to the commentaries by each of the papers' authors. An overview by Alfred Blumstein of the central issues raised at the symposium and a book-review essay by Hans-Jürgen Kerner rounds out the volume and collectively provides a comprehensive representation of the provocative discussion ignited by these intriguing session panels.
Centered on the fundamental discussions raised by the life-course paradigm in criminology, this historical issue of The Annals will potentially shape the theoretical and research agenda for years to come. It is an essential resource for scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the fields of criminology, sociology, psychology, criminal justice, aging, human development, and social policy.
With a diverse set of viewpoints, this well-rounded and in-depth look at age, crime, and human development is a valuable contribution to existing studies and will serve as a foundation for future research into this lively topic.