Active Offender Research

Scott Jacques

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:
Active Offender Research

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Before criminology became obsessed with quantitative research, many of the field’s insights about crime came from offenders’ “own stories,” although this work typically used accounts from incarcerated or former offenders. In this way, active offender research was born out of criminology’s infancy. The criminological lexicon holds that active offender research involves (1) in-depth communication and observations, especially of the qualitative kind, (2) with un-incarcerated persons (3) who have not—in their own minds—terminated their criminal career. As it is known today, the term “active offender research” is perhaps too broad, as persons may continue to offend even within institutional walls; the difference between “active” and “inactive” depends on temporal narrowness (e.g., no person is offending in every moment); and self-administered surveys may sample active offenders as they collect information from current lawbreakers. Putting aside these definitional discrepancies, this body of work—as defined above—is unique and important. Compared to institutionalized criminals, active ones are more aware of current trends in crime and social control, are better able to remember why and how they offend, are more willing to speak the whole truth, and are more likely to represent populations not subjected to discriminatory law enforcement. For these reasons and others it is important to conduct research with active offenders. This bibliography does not organize or summarize all of it but instead focuses on method and kinds of crimes and offenders.

Article.  6538 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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