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Criminal Justice Contact Across Generations: Assessing the Intergenerational Labeling Hypothesis

  • Megan Bears AugustynEmail author
  • Jeffrey T. Ward
  • Marvin D. Krohn
  • Beidi Dong
ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Abstract

Purpose

The present study assesses the intergenerational labeling hypothesis and examines whether the relationship between a child’s involuntary contact with the police and subsequent offending depends on parental arrest history (and its timing in the life course of the child) and parent sex.

Methods

Using data from 312 parent–child dyads from the Rochester Youth Development Study and Rochester Intergenerational Study, generalized linear regression models estimate the main and interactive effects of a child’s involuntary contact and parental arrest history on subsequent delinquency as well as potential mechanisms for deviance amplification.

Results

Main effects are consistent with labeling theory and moderation analyses reveal that the impact of involuntary contact on subsequent delinquency depends on parental arrest history. More specifically, contact with the police on subsequent offending is greater when the focal parent has an arrest history, regardless of when the most recent arrest occurs in the life course of the child. However, some differences in the magnitude of the exacerbating effect of recent parental arrest emerged. Results also speak to potential mechanisms across mother–child and father–child dyads with respect to deviance amplification.

Conclusions

This research supports the life-course principles of “linked lives” and “timing in lives” and their application to labeling theory in an intergenerational context. To reduce deviance amplification, special attention should be paid to youth who experience a police contact in the context of a parental arrest history.

Keywords

Life course Deviance amplification Intergenerational arrest Labeling theory 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Support for the Rochester Youth Development Study has been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R01CE001572), the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2006-JW-BX-0074, 86-JN-CX-0007, 96-MU-FX-0014, 2004-MU-FX-0062), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA020195, R01DA005512), the National Science Foundation (SBR-9123299), and the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH56486, R01MH63386). Work on this project was also aided by grants to the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the University at Albany from NICHD (P30HD32041) and NSF (SBR-9512290).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal Justice, University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and Criminology & LawUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Criminology, Law and SocietyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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