Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 227–257 | Cite as

Assessing the Impact of First-Time Imprisonment on Offenders’ Subsequent Criminal Career Development: A Matched Samples Comparison

  • Paul NieuwbeertaEmail author
  • Daniel S. Nagin
  • Arjan A. J. Blokland
Original Paper


Using data from the Netherlands-based Criminal Career and Life-course Study the effect of first-time imprisonment between age 18–38 on the conviction rates in the 3 years immediately following the year of the imprisonment was examined. Unadjusted comparisons of those imprisoned and those not imprisoned will be biased because imprisonment is not meted out randomly. Selection processes will tend to make the imprisoned group disproportionately crime prone compared to the not imprisoned group. In this study group-based trajectory modeling was combined with risk set matching to balance a variety of measurable indicators of criminal propensity. Findings indicate that first-time imprisonment is associated with an increase in criminal activity in the 3 years following release. The effect of imprisonment is similar across offence types.


Criminal careers Imprisonment Developmental trajectory Propensity scores Deterrence 



We thank Paul Rosenbaum for many valuable suggestions. All errors, however, remain our own. This work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (SES-99113700; SES-0647576) and the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1 MH65611-01A2).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Nieuwbeerta
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daniel S. Nagin
    • 3
  • Arjan A. J. Blokland
    • 1
  1. 1.Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving (NSCR)—Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law EnforcementLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and ManagementCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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