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Typologies of Criminal Behavior - The Future Of Typologies In Criminological Investigation

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Criminologists will probably continue to endeavor to classify and categorize forms of crime and kinds of offenders despite the numerous problems identified above. Classification systems that sort offenders or crimes into relatively homogeneous categories alert observers to broad groupings of lawbreakers or offenses. These typological characterizations constitute benchmarks against which actual offenders or criminal incidents can be compared. In addition, typologies are useful in developing principles of correctional intervention in that they indicate the need for differential treatment, that is, intervention matched to the offender.

The population of offenders includes a large number of persons who do not fit existing typologies. Behavioral diversity among lawbreakers, rather than offense specialization, suggests that a loose fit will continue to exist between typological categories and actual offenders, with many of the latter falling outside of the classificatory scheme. Accordingly, future efforts will probably focus on patterns of crimes.

Several important steps have been taken in this direction. For example, Thomas Reppetto's study of burglary indicated that particular cases of burglary tend to resemble one another closely in terms of crime techniques employed, objects stolen in the burglaries, and so on. More generally, Weisburd, Wheeler, Waring, and Bode examined a number of federal offenders who had been convicted variously of antitrust violations, securities fraud, mail fraud, false claims, bribery, tax fraud, credit fraud, and bank embezzlement. They indicated that these offenses could be combined into three relatively distinct types in terms of offense complexity and the degree of harm to victims. Finally, Farr and Gibbons have developed a comprehensive typology of crime forms: organizational crime, organized crime, workplace crime, "street crime," social protest crime, violent crime, and folk/mundane crime. While a number of these crime patterns have been noted by others in the criminological literature, Farr and Gibbons have provided detailed and explicit accounts of the distinguishing features of each of these crime forms. More work of this kind is in order.

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