Crime study in support of marriage - 9/12/02
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
Sat Sep 14 21:43:49 EDT 2002
subject: Crime study in support of marriage - 9/12/02
from: Smart Marriages®
Public release date: 12-Sep-2002
Contact: Alex Piquero
apiquero at ufl.edu
University of Florida
UF study: Marriage can reduce life of crime
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The bliss of a steady marriage is a strong antidote to
a life of crime, a new University of Florida study finds. In a study of
paroled men, the UF research team found that the most hardened ex-cons were
far less likely to return to their crooked ways if they settled down into
the routines of a solid marriage, said Alex Piquero, a UF professor of
criminology and law who led the study.
This tendency to stay on the straight and narrow was common among whites,
blacks and Hispanics, according to the study published in the September
issue of the journal Social Science Quarterly.
"People who are married often have schedules where they work 9-to-5 jobs,
come home for dinner, take care of children if they have them, watch
television, go to bed and repeat that cycle over and over again," Piquero
said. "People who are not married have a lot of free rein to do a lot of
what they want, especially if they are not employed."
There is a twist. Common-law marriages or living with a partner did not have
the same crime-reducing effect as did traditional marriages in which the
knot is tied, the union is registered at the courthouse, and there is a
general expectation to lead a steady life.
In fact, the study found that cohabiting without marriage actually increased
the likelihood that parolees would recommit crimes, at least among parolees
who are not Caucasian.
"Nonwhites, especially African-Americans, have lower rates of marriages than
whites, and it could be, especially among male criminal offenders, that the
idea of marriage is a foreign concept to them, perhaps because they may have
come from single-parent families or are surrounded by single-parent
households," he said.
Statistics indicate many nonwhite parolees are not steadily employed, so
women may not look upon them as desirable marriage partners anyway, Piquero
said. Rather than entering relationships with partners who might stymie
their involvement in crime, ex-cons end up sticking with women who allow
them to continue their errant ways, he said.
"There's something about crossing the line of getting married that helps
these men stay away from crime," he said. "If they don't cross that line,
they can continue their lifestyles, which are pretty erratic."
Using arrest records from the state of California, Piquero, Karen Parker,
also a UF criminology and law professor, and John MacDonald, a University of
South Carolina criminal justice professor, tracked each of 524 men in their
late teens and early 20s for a seven-year period after they were paroled
from the California Youth Authority during the 1970s and 1980s. The sample
of men, who had been incarcerated for lengthy periods of time, was 48.5
percent white, 33 percent black, 16.6 percent Hispanic and 1.9 percent other
races. The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, sought to
identify factors leading to continued involvement in crime, as well as those
relating to crime reduction, Piquero said. It examined alcohol and drug use,
marriage and employment.
The only other factor to influence recidivism was heroin dependency, Piquero
said. Parolees who abused heroin became involved in a wide range of violent
and nonviolent crimes, he said.
Piquero said he was surprised by the results.
As the state's last stop for criminal offenders, the California Youth
Authority draws the worst criminal offenders. "These aren't one-time
offenders who are selling a few joints out on the street," he said. "I
honestly didn't expect to find the 'marriage effect' among these people,
because they had made lots of bad choices in their lives prior to this point
and had long, long rap sheets," he said.
The results also may apply to criminals across the country because research
has shown many crime-related factors are similar nationally and even
internationally, Piquero said. "Serious offenders in California are not that
much different from serious offenders in Florida, New Jersey or New York,"
The findings underscore the importance of life circumstances over time,
Piquero said. "It shows that life events such as marriage matter and can
trigger changes from one pathway to another, causing a move in a different
direction," he said.
Writer: Cathy Keen
Source: Alex Piquero
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