Does the Premium Fit the Risk? The Role of Criminal Escalation in Case Processing

Shi Yan, Jason W. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Legal and qualitative studies have highlighted that courtroom actors consider multiple aspects of criminal records. However, most quantitative studies on sentencing only included the number of prior convictions or arrests, with little attention to the seriousness trends of those priors. Taking stock from studies on criminal careers, we used group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) to identify patterns of escalation and de-escalation among a defendant sample in New York State (n = 56,017), and then examined the role of trajectory groups in four decision points: dismissal, charge reduction, incarceration, and incarceration length. We found that escalation, de-escalation, and a higher stable level of crime seriousness were associated with less favorable outcomes at multiple decision points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1462-1491
Number of pages30
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • criminal careers
  • criminal escalation
  • criminal records
  • group-based trajectory modeling
  • sentencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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