Criminal history and social disadvantage as predictors of the severity of violent offending – 2018

Lethal violence is often seen as the tip of the iceberg and homicide perpetrators are seen as manifesting the most extreme number of various risk factors. This article explores whether that is the case. Using a unique data set combining data from several administrative registers with a nationally representative sample of different types of police-reported violence committed during 2010–2011 (N = 26,303 offenders) in Finland, we compare the offenders of five different types of violence (minor assault, assault, aggravated assault, attempted homicide, and completed homicide). In addition, we examine the association between the severity of violence and prior criminal history and different types of strain. The results give partial support to the hypothesis: the more serious the violence, the more crime prone and socially disadvantaged the offender. Yet, lethal offenders do not stand out alone; the division, rather, appears to be between offenders of serious (aggravated assault, attempted homicide, completed homicide) and less serious (minor assault, assault) forms of violence.

Karoliina Suonpää, Janne Kivivuori & Mikko Aaltonen
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, Volume 42, 2018 – Issue 2-3