John Laub: A Tale of Two Eras: A Reconsideration of Turning Points and Pathways Out of Crime


Monday, November 16, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

John Laub, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park.

In the first part of this presentation, I will discuss the life course of crime, drawing on longitudinal data for 500 juvenile offenders studied from childhood to age 70. These data originated from the classic study of juvenile delinquency conducted by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck at the Harvard Law School.  

My focus is an examination of the pathways and turning points in overcoming the obstacles of disadvantage and crime in childhood, adolescence and adulthood during the period of 1925 to 1965.  

In the second part of the presentation, I will assess the prospects for overcoming disadvantage and crime in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood for a contemporary sample of serious, persistent delinquents during the period from 1970 to the present.  

Offering this hypothetical sample as a “thought experiment,” I will consider whether or not the pathways to desistance or persistence in crime have changed in the modern era.

About the speaker

John H. Laub is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park.

From July 2010 to January 2013, Dr. Laub served as the Director of the National Institute of Justice in the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. The position of Director is a presidential appointment with confirmation by the United States Senate.

In 1996, he was named a fellow of the American Society of Criminology, in 2002-2003 he served as the President of the American Society of Criminology, and in 2005 he received the Edwin H. Sutherland Award from the American Society of Criminology. Dr. Laub, along with his colleague Robert Sampson, was awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2011 for their research on how and why offenders stop offending.

Dr. Laub’s areas of research include crime and the life course, crime and public policy, and the history of criminology.

He has published widely including Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life, co-authored with Robert Sampson, Harvard University Press, 1993. With Robert Sampson, he wrote Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70, Harvard University Press, 2003, which analyzes longitudinal data from a long-term follow-up study of juvenile offenders from a classic study by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck. Both books have won three major awards: The Albert J. Reiss, Jr, Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Crime, Law, and Deviance Section; the Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences; and the Michael J. Hindelang Book Award from the American Society of Criminology.

See also: Fall 2015