Perceptual Deterrence and Desistance from Crime: A Study of Repetitive Serious Property Offenders in Tennessee, 1987-1988 (ICPSR 9971)

Published: Nov 19, 1999

Principal Investigator(s):
Neal Shover

Version V1

For this data collection, offenders confined to prison were surveyed to examine the utility of deterrence theory variables as predictors of differential desistance from serious property crimes. The investigators also examined subjects' "criminal calculus," that is, their expectations of the likely gains and losses of further criminal behavior and the conditions under which they likely would commit further crimes. Specifically, the data explored whether decisions to commit crime are based on assessment of potential returns from alternate courses of action and the risk of legal sanctions. Sixty repeat offenders who had served one or more prison sentences were asked about their history of criminal activity, reasons for committing crimes, expectations of future criminal activities, and likely consequences of committing crimes. Data were collected in pre-release interviews in 1987 and 1988 as part of a larger study. Variables include age, education, age at first arrest, alcohol and drug use as a juvenile, as a young adult, and as a mature adult, past crimes, willingness to commit specific property crimes, reasons for being willing or unwilling to commit specific property crimes, expectations of arrest subsequent to actual crimes committed, and the likelihood of future criminal activity.

Shover, Neal. Perceptual Deterrence and Desistance from Crime:  A Study of Repetitive Serious Property Offenders in Tennessee, 1987-1988    . Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999-11-19.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (86-IJ-CX-0068)

1987 -- 1988

1987-01 -- 1988-12

The codebook for this collection is provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.

All members of the sample were nearing completion of a jail or prison sentence, and were selected for their demonstrated preference for property crimes. Of 75 inmates asked to participate in the study, 60 agreed to answer questionnaires. Fifty-eight of the subjects had served at least one prison sentence, while the other two had served one or more jail sentences.

Jail and prison inmates in Tennessee with a demonstrated preference for property crimes.

personal interviews and questionnaires

survey data



1999-11-19 SAS and SPSS data definition statements and a PDF codebook have been added to this collection.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.