The Offense Rate

  • William Spelman
Part of the The Plenum Series in Crime and Justice book series (PSIC)


We begin our description of the offending population with what is probably the most important parameter of all—the offense rate. Certainly the offense rate, λ, has received more attention than any other descriptor. There are a variety of reasons for this. For one, the offense rate is critical to estimates of the effects of collective incapacitation strategies. If the average value of λ for all active offenders were known, it would not be difficult to establish a minimum value for the effects of changes in the likelihood and length of incarceration on the crime rate (Cohen, 1978). And the distribution of offense rates among offenders is critical to estimates of the effects of selective incapacitation. In fact, most current selective proposals resulted more or less directly from the Philadelphia cohort study, which verified that a few offenders commit a lot of crimes (Wolfgang, Figlio, & Sellin, 1972).


Criminal Justice System Crime Rate Lorenz Curve Property Crime Crime Type 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Spelman
    • 1
  1. 1.Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public AffairsUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

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