Delinquent networks in Philadelphia: The structure of co -offending among juveniles

Reagan M Daly, University of Pennsylvania


It has been firmly established in the criminological literature that juvenile crime is a group process. This implies that juveniles are tied to larger co-offending networks that provide them with various resources and opportunities for committing crime, and that the best way to prevent delinquency is to break them up. The aim of this study is to gain a greater understanding of the structure of delinquent networks by mapping out co-offending networks of adjudicated and assigned delinquents in Philadelphia, exploring differences between co-offenders who comprise these networks and delinquents who commit crime on their own, and identifying similarities and differences between delinquents who commit crimes together. The first component is explored through network and descriptive analysis, while the second and third components are explored using logistic regression. Results show that networks of adjudicated and assigned delinquents are small and disconnected, and they account for only a small proportion of delinquents and offenses. The most common offenses carried out by networks are theft, robbery, and drug offenses. The co-offenders that comprise them tend to be male, white, and to have a shorter delinquency arrest history compared to solo offenders. They are also more likely to carry out violent and property offenses as opposed to sex, drug, firearms, or "other" offenses. Finally, delinquents tend to choose as co-offenders individuals who are similar to them in terms of sex, race, age, geographic residence, offending history, and drug abuse history. The findings support opportunity theories of co-offending, which predict that juveniles will commit crimes with others who are easily accessible and that trustworthiness is an important criterion for co-offender selection. They also indicate that offense and situational characteristics may influence co-offending behavior more than individual factors. Finally, these findings suggest that adjudicated and assigned co-offenders may be recruiting juveniles who are not processed to the same extent by the juvenile justice system, and, under this assumption, that policy interventions will prevent more crime if they focus on these individuals.

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Recommended Citation

Daly, Reagan M, "Delinquent networks in Philadelphia: The structure of co -offending among juveniles" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3197666.