Military Service and Desistance from Contact with the Criminal Justice System

Lucky M. Tedrow, Western Washington University
Jay D. Teachman, Western Washington University

Using data taken from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we examine the relationship between military service and desistance from contact with the criminal justice system. Drawing on the concept of a turning point, we show that military service does not affect the risk of committing or being convicted of violent crimes, while at the same time significantly reducing the risk of committing or being convicted of non-violent crimes. We find no evidence that service in a combat zone affects criminal behavior. Our results demonstrate how participation in a large-scale institution can alter the life-course trajectories of young persons.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Data and Methods/Applied Demography/ Spatial Demography/ Demography of Crime