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Longitudinal Study of Violent Criminal Behavior in the United States, 1970-1984 (ICPSR 6103) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The primary objective of this project was to explore the familial, physical, psychological, social, and cultural antecedents and correlates of violent criminal offending. This research used an extensive longitudinal database collected on 1,345 young adult male offenders admitted to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Tallahassee, Florida, from November 3, 1970, to November 2, 1972. Using FBI arrest records ("rap sheets"), each inmate was classified on the basis of the National Crime Information Center Uniform Offense Codes into one of four distinct categories: (1) "angry violent," in which the apparent goal was to injure the victim, (2) "instrumentally violent," in which the aggressive behavior was a means to an end (as in a robbery), (3) "potentially violent," as evidenced by making threats or carrying weapons but in which the offender was not accused of any violent offenses, and (4) "nonviolent," in which the offender had not been charged with violent criminal behavior. Violent offenders were also subdivided into those who had been repetitively violent and those who had been charged with just one violent offense. As part of the classification process, each inmate was administered an extensive battery of tests by the research project staff. The two primary personality assessment instruments utilized were the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the California Psychological Inventory (CPI). Each inmate's caseworker filled out a series of of standard Bureau of Prisons forms recording the results of the medical, educational, and psychological evaluations, as well as salient aspects of the case and criminal history. The researchers also obtained copies of each offender's Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) that had been prepared by the federal probation officer, and then devised a series of scales to quantify the PSI data. In addition, an hour-long structured intake interview was administered to each inmate by his team psychologist. Global scales were constructed from these intake interviews. After each interview, the psychologists performed an evaluative Q-sort. Nine scales were later constructed based on these Q-sorts. Also, every dormitory officer and every work supervisor completed scales assessing each subject's interpersonal adjustment and work performance at 90-day intervals. Immediately prior to release, as many inmates as possible were reinterviewed and retested on the MMPI and the CPI. Follow-ups using FBI rap sheets were conducted in 1976 and 1984. Variables obtained from the Bureau of Prisons forms include age upon entry, race, marital status, age at first arrest, number of prior adult convictions, commitment offense(s), highest school grade completed, drug dependency, and alcoholism. Scales developed from the PSIs provide data on father, mother, and siblings, family incohesiveness, adequacy of childhood dwelling, social deviance of family, school problems, employment problems, achievement motivation, problems with interpersonal relations, authority conflicts, childhood and adolescent or adult maladjustment and deviance, poor physical health, juvenile conviction record, adult arrest and conviction record, violence of offense, group influence on illegal behavior, and prior prison adjustment. The intake interview inquired about the developmental family history and the child's development, the inmate's marriage, educational, and work history and attitudes, attitudes toward sex, military service and attitudes, self-reported use of alcohol and other substances, religious preferences and practices, and problems during any previous confinements. Scales based on the psychologists' Q-sorts evaluated aggression, hostility avoidance, authority conflict, sociability, social withdrawal, social/emotional constriction, passivity, dominance, and adaptation to the environment. Data are also provided on global dorm adjustment and the number of shots, cell house days, sick calls, and infractions for the offenders' first and second 90-day periods at the FCI.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Dataset - Download All Files (6,259 KB)
Documentation:

Study Description

Citation

Megargee, Edwin I., and Joyce L. Carbonell. Longitudinal Study of Violent Criminal Behavior in the United States, 1970-1984 . ICPSR06103-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996. doi:10.3886/ICPSR06103.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (88-IJ-CX-0006)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   arrest records, criminal histories, educational assessment, family histories, health status, inmates, nonviolent crime, offender classification, offenders, personality assessment, psychological evaluation, psychological wellbeing, violent crime

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1970--1984

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Youth offenders in federal correctional facilities.

Data Types:   administrative records data, clinical data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Users are encouraged to obtain a copy of the final report and/or relevant articles about Dr. Megargee's aggression theory and how scales developed as part of this project were constructed. Users will need to obtain information on the background and score interpretation for scales used in this data collection.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Researchers have often regarded violence as a unidimensional phenomenon and have implicitly treated violent subjects as if they constituted a homogeneous group. For this project, violent offenders were not treated as a homogeneous group. The primary objective of this project was to explore the familial, physical, psychological, social, and cultural antecedents and correlates of violent criminal offending. Dr. Carbonell used the theoretical framework for the analysis of aggressive behavior developed by Dr. Megargee to design an interrelated set of empirical studies on the familial, physical, psychological, social, and cultural characteristics of violent criminal offenders.

Study Design:   This research used an extensive longitudinal database collected on 1,345 young adult male offenders admitted to the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida, from November 3, 1970, to November 2, 1972. During the first four weeks after entry, all inmates were housed in a separate Admissions and Orientation Unit prior to classification. During this period, the inmates were not assigned to permanent jobs or programs, so their time was free for interviews and testing prior to classification. All test and interview data were made available to the classification team, and the inmates were told that this information would be used in planning their programs. During the first two weeks after admission, each inmate was administered an extensive battery of tests by the research project staff. The two primary instruments utilized were the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the California Psychological Inventory (CPI). Because the MMPI was required by the Bureau of Prisons, the staff went to great lengths to obtain valid MMPI scores on all subjects. Spanish and tape-recorded MMPIs were administered, and the examiner checked for random responding by asking subjects how they had responded to six randomly-selected items. Subjects unable to recall their responses were retested. (These checking procedures were not employed with the CPI.) Using FBI arrest records ("rap sheets"), each inmate was classified on the basis of the National Crime Information Center Uniform Offense Codes into one of four distinct categories: (1) "angry violent," in which the apparent goal was to injure the victim, (2) "instrumentally violent", in which the aggressive behavior was a means to an end as in a robbery, (3) "potentially violent," as evidenced by making threats or carrying weapons but in which the offender was never accused of any violent offenses, and (4) "nonviolent," in which the offender had never been charged with violent criminal behavior. Violent offenders were also subdivided into those who had been repetitively violent and those who had been charged with just one violent offense. As part of the classification process, each inmate's caseworker filled out a series of standard Bureau of Prisons (BOP) forms recording the results of the medical, educational, and psychological evaluations, as well as salient aspects of the cases and criminal histories. Copies of these BOP forms were made available to the project staff. The researchers also obtained copies of each offender's Presentence Investigation Report (PSI) that had been prepared by the federal probation officer. Megargee and his associates devised a series of scales to quantify the PSI data. In the third week, an hour-long structured interview was administered to each inmate by his team psychologist. The interview was designed to complement rather than duplicate the case history information obtained from the PSI. Global scales were constructed from the intake interviews. After each interview, the psychologists performed an evaluative Q-sort. Nine scales were later constructed based on these Q-sorts. From the beginning of the study until July 1974, data were systematically collected regarding the institutional adjustment and achievement of every member of the cohort. In addition, every dormitory officer and work supervisor completed scales assessing each subject's interpersonal adjustment and work performance at 90-day intervals. Immediately prior to release, as many inmates as possible were reinterviewed and retested on the MMPI and the CPI. Follow-ups using FBI rap sheets were conducted in 1976 and 1984.

Data Source:

(1) Intake test battery scores, (2) interviews by team psychologists, (3) institutional records, (4) dormitory officer and work supervisor assessments, (5) exit interviews and tests, and (6) follow-up data obtained by the Research Division of the Federal Bureau of Prisons from the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Description of Variables:   Variables obtained from the BOP forms include age upon entry, race, marital status, age at first arrest, number of prior adult convictions, commitment offense(s), highest school grade completed, drug dependency, and alcoholism. Scales developed from the PSIs provide data on father, mother, and siblings, family incohesiveness, adequacy of childhood dwelling, social deviance of family, school problems, employment problems, achievement motivation, problems with interpersonal relations, authority conflicts, childhood and adolescent or adult maladjustment and deviance, poor physical health, juvenile conviction record, adult arrest and conviction record, violence of offense, group influence on illegal behavior, and prior prison adjustment. The intake interview inquired about the developmental family history and the child's development, the inmate's marriage, educational, and work history and attitudes, attitudes toward sex, military service and attitudes, self-reported use of alcohol and other substances, religious preferences and practices, and problems or difficulties during any previous confinements. Scales based on the psychologists' Q-sorts evaluated aggression, hostility avoidance, authority conflict, sociability, social withdrawal, social/emotional constriction, passivity, dominance, and adaptation to the environment. Data are also provided on global dorm adjustment and the number of shots, cell house days, sick calls, and infractions for the offenders' first and second 90-day periods at the FCI.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   Ability, interest, and achievement measures include the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB), the Revised Beta Intelligence Test, and the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT). Personality assessment devices include the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the California Psychological Inventory (CPI), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Quay and Peterson's Personal Opinion Study (POS), and Itkin's (1952) Attitudes Towards Parents scales. Recidivism scales include Clark's Recidivism Scale, Clark's Recidivism-Rehabilitation Scale for Blacks, Panton's Parole Violator Scale, and Panton's Habitual Criminalism Scale. Substance abuse scales include Panton and Brisson's Drug Abuser Scale, Rosenberg's Composite Alcoholism Scale, the Carior et al. Heroin Abuse Scale, Institutionalized Chronic Alcoholism Scale, and Zager Drug-Alcohol Scale.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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