The understanding of offending, and thus its possible prevention, is expanded through longitudinal studies on criminal trajectories depicting early life risk factors. This longitudinal study aimed to explore criminal trajectories, criminal histories, and early life risk factors in a cohort of violent offenders. A Swedish nationally representative cohort of male violent offenders (n = 266), clinically assessed while imprisoned aged 18 to 25, was followed through national registers from age 15 to 25–34. Substantial differences in criminal histories between violent offenders and a matched comparison group (n = 10,000) were demonstrated. Five trajectory groups were identified: four persisting and one desisting. Although differences were observed between persisting trajectory groups, a higher prevalence of early life risk factors was generally displayed compared to the desisting, especially in conduct problems and experiences of out-of-home placements. Neurocognitive ability and prevalence of ADHD and autism were similar across trajectories. Severe early life risks highlight the population’s need for early interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270 - 290
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychiatry

Free keywords

  • criminal behavior
  • group-based modeling
  • longitudinal
  • risk factors
  • violent offenders


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