Kriminologiska institutionens avhandlingsserie nr. 24, 2007.

Abstract: The objective of the thesis is to study how contacts/relationships are established in prison, and whether this is of significance for co-offending. A further objective is that of studying co-offending among individuals classified as gang members. Data have been collected from the Register of Suspected Offenders for all individuals released from Swedish prisons over a period of six months (n=3,930). Data have also been collected for individuals deemed by prison service officials to be members of various gangs (n=1,310). Twelve individuals (four women and eight men) with experience of serving time in prison have been interviewed.

The results of the register study show that it is uncommon for individuals who have spent time together at the same prison to be suspected of committing offences together subsequent to release. This was the case for two percent of the entire study population and three percent of the gang members. The co-offending of different gangs has also been studied by means of network analysis. There are substantial variations between different gangs as regards the proportion of suspected offences involving gang members and other individuals respectively, as reflected in both direct and indirect links. The interview study shows that there are different reasons for wanting to establish contacts/relationships with others. For some the intention is to maintain contacts of value for future crimes. A number of different reasons emerged however for why such contacts are discontinued. Inmates return to their old friends, they are re-arrested, women find themselves back in the worlds of men, a long time may pass between the individuals’ respective release dates, they may live a long way apart or drug use, leading to the breakdown of contacts as a result.

The theoretical framework employed in the thesis proceeds from social exchange theory. For co-offending to take place subsequent to release from prison, the contact/relationship established in prison must be worth something. Trust, contacts with other criminals, the size of an individual’s criminal network, and criminal capital are all relevant in this context.

 

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