It Was My Idea: Considering The Instigation Of Co-Offending

Jean Marie Mcgloin, Holly Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


More than twenty years ago, Albert Reiss (1988) recognized that some individuals are responsible for instigating group offending, whereas others follow accomplices into crime (or offend alone). Since this initial discussion by Reiss, however, little clarity has emerged regarding the factors that predict or explain the instigation of co-offending. Specifically, some literature has suggested that the tendency to instigate varies systematically across individuals, such that chronic or serious offenders are more likely to instigate group crime. Instigation also may vary across crime types (i.e., within-individuals), according to whether individuals have crime-specific skill or experience. Using data from inmates in the Colorado Department of Corrections to investigate these hypotheses, the results reveal that individuals with earlier ages of criminal onset are more likely to report they instigate group crime, net of controls. At the same time, indicators of crime-specific expertise predict the tendency to instigate group crime. The Discussion section considers the implications of these results and offers directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-494
Number of pages32
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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