Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 3, Page 6
Spring 1994
On Research
Linking past and future criminal behavior

     Finding links between past and future violent criminal behavior
is the work of Ramiro Martinez Jr., assistant professor of sociology
and criminal justice. FBI statistics gathered between 1973 and 1990 in
Columbus, Ohio, provided him with an unusual wealth of background
information on 400 subjects arrested for murder, rape, aggravated
assault and armed robbery. Almost equally divided between blacks and
whites, the subjects tended to be from poor socio-economic backgrounds
and were overwhelmingly from urban backgrounds. But, most (80 percent)
had not had a prior violent arrest.
     Martinez found, however, that early contact with the police was a
major factor in predicting violent behavior. Access to juvenile court
records provided important information that allowed him to establish
linkages between the early onset of delinquency problems and the
probability of adult violent crime.
     In contrast to studies from the 1940s and 1950s that showed
violent offenders were not repeat offenders, Martinez found that
almost half those in his study had at least one major subsequent
arrest (after 1973) for violent crime. He says he believes the many
societal changes during this period could account for some of the
behavioral changes.
     In addition to the increase in violent crime arrests, many had
arrests during this time for other crimes, including domestic
violence, resisting arrest or menacing threats. Martinez theorizes
that this recurring violent behavior is not incidental and many of
these subjects were violence "specialists," engaged in exclusively
violent behavior.
     Martinez says he plans to update the study by looking at the
current status of these subjects, focusing on employment, substance
abuse and overall maturity. "Surprisingly," he notes, "only a small
number are still in prison."
                                  -Michael W. Hail, Delaware '95 Ph.D.