On the Conceptualization of Criminal Capital

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Objectives: The first objective of this study is to provide a conceptualization of criminal capital. The second objective is to present an illustrative analysis of dimensionality and concurrent validity of criminal capital acquired in prison. Methods: One hundred eight inmates in three correctional reentry facilities in a mid-Atlantic state were interviewed at two times: in prison and nine months postrelease. Postrelease interviews included six items that tapped into criminal human capital and criminal social capital acquired in prison. Factor structure was examined with confirmatory factor analysis, and item response theory was used to examine each of the items. Regression models examined concurrent validity for the criminal capital construct on the willingness to offend, perceived rewards to crime, illegal earnings expectations, and making money from crime. Results: Criminal human capital and criminal social capital acquired in prison represent a single unidimensional latent construct. Regression models demonstrated concurrent validity for the criminal capital construct. Conclusions: Working toward a consistent conceptualization of criminal capital is important for a cohesive body of knowledge. Future work should investigate how dimensionality and validity differ across contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-216
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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